Conviction Press Tour–Betty Anne Waters
By Gary Murray
If someone would tell you the life of Betty Anne Waters, you would think 'How tragic'. The high school drop out was working at a bar. slinging drinks in Massachusetts. Her rough and tumble brother is accused of murder, a crime she knows he didn't commit. In prison, after her bothers attempted suicide, she vows to get her GED, go to college, get a law degree, pass the bar and become Kenny's attorney. Her story of freeing her brother was turned into a story on Dateline. After a few struggles the story of Betty Anne is now the Hillary Swank feature Conviction. Betty Anne was in town recently with director Tony Goldwyn and actress Juliette Lewis who appears in a small but pivotal role.
On Hillary Swank playing Betty Ann, she answered, "How lucky am I?" with a laugh. "I saw her in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby and I thought I'd be so lucky if she'd play me. And I got lucky."
To get the screenplay right Betty Anne talked to Tony for fourteen hours, Pamela Gray the writer for fourteen hours and with all three for another 14 hours. "I felt like I was in therapy," she laughed.
She is a woman with an infectious laugh and bright smile, nothing one would think a lawyer looks life. The path of Betty Anne was a long road from enrolling in community college, to passing the bar in two states. "I had to do it to keep him alive," she said. "The worst part of my life was when my kids lived with their father. Its hard to open a book when you're depressed."
The film doesn't mention it it but Kenny was killed in a car wreck a few months from his release. Said Betty, "This movie is about freedom and proving Kenny's innocence. It is not about his death. You want to walk away from the movie feeling good that Kenny won. That's what Kenny would have wanted." One can tell by her voice that she loved her brother. She said, "If Kenny walked into a room you would want to just to be around him. He was a trouble maker but not that kind of a trouble maker, killing people for money."
Sam Rockwell physically looks nothing like Kenny but Betty Anne did like his portrayal. At first she said, "How is Sam Rockwell going to be Kenny? (But) When I saw him on screen I really felt he got the many sides of my brother." She described Kenny as a loveable person who wouldn't walk away from a fight–not an aggressor but not afraid.
After Kenny was released, Betty Anne filed a civil suit against the police and prosecutors. "DNA evidence proved my brother was innocent and exonerated him but it didn't prove what Nancy Taylor and the town of Ayers did to him. If I didn't bring the civil suit, no body would have ever found out. From day one, (Investigating Officer) Nancy Taylor knew that there were bloody fingerprints in this case and that my brother was not a suspect. He was on the list of elimination. She went to the grand jury and told them there were no useable fingerprints, only fingerprints of the victim." Then during the trial it was mentioned that a different suspect was eliminated due to fingerprints. Betty Anne added, "I'm not a genius or a scientist but I think if one person can be eliminated, everybody can be."
Even though she's proud of the movie, she is more proud of freeing her brother, She said "Barry Check is my hero."
She's seen the movie three times always through tears. "I don't know if I've seen the real movie." A scene of Kenny and Betty jumping on her grandfather's truck was exactly like she remember it. "It brings me back like it was yesterday," said Betty Anne.