The Associated Press

BEATRICE — A former police investigator whose work helped exonerate six people wrongly convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of a Beatrice woman has died following the crash of his pickup truck, authorities said.

Mike Oliver, 54, died after being found unresponsive Friday afternoon in his truck after it had crossed the U.S. Highway 77 median and rolled into a field, radio station KWBE reported.

Authorities said an autopsy showed Oliver had died of a medical episode, not crash injuries.

Oliver was a longtime member of the Beatrice Police Department before his retirement due to health reasons. He had headed the task force that re-examined the so-called Beatrice Six case.

The six people convicted in that case spent more than 70 years in prison collectively for the 1985 rape and killing of 68-year-old Helen Wilson. They became the first people exonerated by DNA evidence after conviction in Nebraska in 2008. Wilson’s death was later linked by DNA to a former Beatrice resident and ex-con who had died in 1992.

The six wrongly-convicted people sued Gage County after their release from prison, alleging the county ran a reckless investigation. A federal jury awarded them $28.1 million in 2016, plus interest and attorney fees that raise the total to more than $30 million.

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