Keith Bush & Nina Morrison on Fighting for Justice

Keith Bush was arrested at 17 years old for the murder of a teenage girl. Bush says police beat him and coerced a signed confession, and he spent 33 years behind bars until his release in 2007. But he was only exonerated last month, after years of fighting to prove his innocence. He joins the program to talk about his ordeal and fight for justice, alongside Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You have been exonerated after all of these decades. How does it feel to be a free man and have nothing anymore hanging over your head?

KEITH BUSH, EXONERATED AFTER 33 YEARS IN PRISON: Well, you know, for me it’s a process. When you do so many years of incarceration for something you didn’t do, the trauma, you know, remains at the core of your being. But when you’re able to overturn your conviction and enjoy the feeling of freedom, you know, it’s something that I have to, you know, just take it step by step because I still feel the traumas of my past.

AMANPOUR: Can you take me back all of those years ago, you’re 62 years old now, you were 17 when this happened, what do you remember from when the police first knocked on your door when this nightmare started for you?

BUSH: Well, there’s a lot of memories associated with that. And the first thing I remembered is a terrible tragedy that occurred in my community. And it was my responsibility as well as the responsibility of the people in the community of people to find out, would help and then try to help find out who did this terrible thing to Sharice Watson. So, when the police knocked on my door, you know, I was willing to help in any way that I could and I thought by putting my trust in authorities, I was doing the right thing. But as it turned out, that would become the basis of my nightmare.

AMANPOUR: That is also a very profound way to put it, you know, you thought you would put your faith into law enforcement, and instead, they twisted that faith and played on it. You signed a confession, but afterwards said you had been coerced and beaten. Tell me about what happened to you in the police interrogation room, what led you to sign that confession.

BUSH: You know, like that’s — you know, that’s a difficult thing for me to deal with. Even now to look back at that experience brings a lot of trauma. But one thing I can say is that when I was kidnapped and held incommunicado for like 11 hours, that I was totally unprepared for a predicament like that and I had no way of trying to outthink or think my way through that process and I was overwhelmed by the psychological and ultimately by the physical abuse of these officers. And, you know, it was like being trapped, you know, in hell. And eventually, what they did to me to force me to sign that signature on that document would change my life forever.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Keith Bush on exoneration after 33 years in prison alongside Nina Morrison. Sergio Jaramillo joins the program to discuss peace negotiations in Colombia. Alicia Menendez speaks with Yousef Bashir about his new memoir, “The Words of My Father.