NATIONAL NEWS

Betty Tyson dies at 75, spent 25 years in New York prison before murder conviction was overturned

Aug 23, 2023, 10:37 AM | Updated: 11:22 am

Betty Tyson, a woman who spent 25 years in prison for a 1973 murder until being exonerated on the basis of new evidence, has died in upstate New York, her sister said Wednesday.

Tyson, 75, died at a Rochester hospital on Aug. 17 following a heart attack and will be laid to rest Friday, said sister Delorise Thomas. Thomas noted her sister had recently marked a milestone, having spent as much time in freedom after her incarceration as she had behind bars.

“It felt good. She was free,” Thomas, 72, said by phone from her Rochester home, where Tyson also lived. “She enjoyed herself, going out driving, playing cards, going out to different parties … She enjoyed her life.”

Tyson was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in February 1974 for the death of Timothy Haworth. The Philadelphia business consultant had left his Rochester hotel around midnight on May 24, 1973, apparently to look for a prostitute, and was found strangled with his necktie in an alley the next day.

In May 1998, a judge overturned Tyson’s murder conviction, ruling that the police had withheld exculpatory evidence.

Tyson had entered prison at age 25 and was just shy of her 50th birthday when she was released, by then the longest-serving female inmate in the state of New York.

While in prison, Tyson let go of her rage and found solace in the Bible, she told The Associated Press in 1999, about 18 months after leaving Bedford Hills Correctional Facility north of New York City. As a model inmate, she counseled women with AIDS, earned a printer’s apprenticeship, led aerobics classes and became known as “Mom” to younger inmates.

“All that bitterness and anger left me in the late ’70s,” Tyson told AP. “I wasn’t a goody two-shoes, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t kill anybody.”

Tyson had grown up fatherless in a family of eight children, dropped out of school at 14 and turned to prostitution to feed a heroin habit. She and another prostitute, John Duval, were convicted of Haworth’s murder on the basis of confessions they said were beaten out of them by police, and on the testimony of two teenage runaways, one of whom revealed long afterward that the same officer had terrorized him into lying.

Tyson’s conviction was overturned after a previously unknown police report was discovered which documented that the other teenage witness said he had not seen either Tyson or Duval with the victim. Duval’s conviction was overturned in 1999.

Tyson received a $1.25 million settlement from the City of Rochester but would struggle financially after prison. Unable to find work as a printer, when she spoke with AP she was earning $143 a week cleaning a day-care center.

“She was a very kind person. She helped anyone that needed help,” Thomas said Wednesday. “I tried to tell her, ‘You know you can’t help everybody, now.’ She did. She did as much as she could.”

In the months before her heart attack, Tyson had spent time with an ailing older sister, who died in April, Thomas said, and a younger sister who died less than a month ago. She loved her big “crazy family,” Thomas said.

“We all get together and laugh and talk about the old times and eat good food,” Thomas said, “talk about our mother.”

Their mother, Mattie Lawson Buchanan, died of emphysema just five months after Tyson’s release.

National News

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Yekaterinbur...

Associated Press

U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich appear in court in Russia for hearing on espionage charges

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared in court in Russia on Thursday for the second hearing in his trial on espionage charges, the court said. Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government vehemently deny the charges against him. Gershkovich was accused by the Russian Prosecutor General’s office of “gathering secret information” on orders from […]

2 hours ago

FILE - A pedestrian traverses the rotunda inside the New Mexico Capitol, March 16, 2023, in Santa F...

Associated Press

New Mexico governor cites ‘dangerous intersection’ of crime and homelessness, wants lawmakers to act

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Citing what she calls the “dangerous intersection” of crime and homelessness, New Mexico’s governor is calling on lawmakers to address stubbornly high crime rates as they convene Thursday for a special legislative session. In issuing her proclamation, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham talked about a vulnerable segment of society that falls […]

4 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives on third day of the Republi...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: Trump, in Republican convention video, alludes to false claim 2020 election was stolen

DONALD TRUMP, alluding that the 2020 vote was stolen: “Whether you vote early, absentee, by mail or in person, we are going to protect the vote. That’s the most important thing we have to do is protect the vote. Keep your eyes open because these people want to cheat and they do cheat. And frankly, […]

4 hours ago

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives for a c...

Associated Press

‘One screen, two movies’: Conflicting conspiracy theories emerge from Trump shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former president is shot, the gunman quickly neutralized, and all of it is caught on camera. But for those who don’t believe their eyes, that’s just the start of the story. For some supporters of former President Donald Trump, the failure of the Secret Service to prevent the attempted assassination point […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Hundreds attend vigil for man killed at Trump rally in Pennsylvania before visitation Thursday

SARVER, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of people who gathered to remember the former fire chief fatally shot at a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump were urged to find “unity” as the area in rural Pennsylvania sought to recover from the assassination attempt. Wednesday’s public event was the first of two organized to memorialize […]

4 hours ago

California delegate T. Tran holds his phone with an image of Republican presidential candidate form...

Associated Press

What to watch as the Republican National Convention enters its fourth day in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican National Convention culminates Thursday with former President Donald Trump expected to accept the party’s presidential nomination, achieving a comeback four years in the making and anticipated even more in the past week in light of Saturday’s assassination attempt. Trump is expected to accept his third consecutive party nod in prime […]

4 hours ago

Betty Tyson dies at 75, spent 25 years in New York prison before murder conviction was overturned