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Champion of Justice to Speak at Commencement

February 01, 2011

Betty Anne Waters, a waitress and pub manager who put herself through college and law school to get her wrongly convicted brother out of prison, will address the Class of 2011 at the school's commencement in May.

Waters, who had left high school a year before graduating, was the married mother of two boys when her 29-year-old brother, Kenny, was convicted of the murder and armed robbery of a housewife in Ayer, Mass. and sentenced to life without parole.

After a failed suicide attempt by her brother, Waters pledged to go back to school in an effort to free him, on the condition that he would never again try to take his own life.

Waters' steadfast certainty of brother's innocence guided her through college and eventually law school. There, Waters took a strong interest in DNA evidence and persuaded attorneys from the Innocence Project to take up her brother's case. Waters herself unearthed critical evidence that led to her brother's exoneration and release from prison after 18½ years.

The remarkable story of Waters' efforts became the subject of the 2010 film, "Conviction," starring Hilary Swank.

Waters will receive an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony, which will be held on May 19 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.