That didn’t stop her. A single mother of two, she worked weekends as a waitress and bartender to pay her way through Rhode Island College and went on to graduate from Roger Williams University School of Law. At the age of 40, she became a lawyer and, with help from a law school friend, started searching for evidence to free him.
Miraculously, a court clerk called one day to disclose that she had found a cardboard box in the basement of the courthouse labeled “Kenneth Waters.” Inside Betty Anne found a curtain from Brow’s trailer stained with blood believed to be from the murder suspect.
Betty Anne reached out to attorney Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to exonerating wrongly convicted people. Kenneth’s DNA was tested against the blood stain and the results were startling: the samples did not match up. His murder conviction was vacated, and he was let go in March 2001, at the age of 47.
“It’s great to be free,” Kenneth told a pack of reporters as he emerged from the Middlesex Superior courtroom. “I think it’s absolutely amazing that [Betty Anne] has dedicated her life to this.”
Prosecutors considered a retrial, but Kenneth’s ex-girlfriend recanted her testimony and the case was dropped. Sadly, Kenneth, who moved in with his sister in Middletown, after his release, only en-joyed six months of freedom. He died in September 2001 after he tumbled head-first off a 15-foot wall he had scaled to take a shortcut.
Betty Anne, co-owner of Aidan’s Pub, a bar and restaurant overlooking Bristol Harbor, continues to fight on her brother’s behalf. In July 2009, the town of Ayer and five of its insurers agreed to pay $3.4 million to settle a civil suit brought by Kenneth’s estate.
At a news conference back then, Betty Anne tried to hold back tears as she spoke of her brother and how happy he would have been with the settlement.
“Of course, I wish he was here,” she told a reporter for the Boston Globe. “That’s part of the sadness of all this.”
The pain persists for the Brow family as well. Katharina’s brutal murder remains unsolved.