The Innocents (1964)
by Edward D. Radin

Excerpt on

Eugene Padgett

Prisoners bored with routine jail life sometimes confess to a crime they have not committed, hoping for an outing.

One prisoner, though, had a different kind of a plan, and it backfired on him. In 1940, while serving a twenty-year burglary sentence in the Texas State Penitentiary, Eugene Padgett confessed that he had beaten to death Will Sanderford, the owner of a service station at Little River. Padgett pleaded guilty to the murder, waived his right to a jury trial, and received a ninety-nine-year sentence. He was returned to prison. He then revealed that his confession had been false. He had expected to be taken to a small town jail for the trial and reasoned that he would be able to break out of it. Instead, he had been lodged in an escape-proof jail in Austin. Padgett was told the court could not act on his appeal until he had served out his time on the burglary charge. In view of his own admission that he had planned to escape, he was held for the full term of his sentence, and it was not until July, 1955, that the Court of Appeals freed Padgett on his false confession to the murder.


EUGENE PADGETT, Little River, Texas
Trial, 1940, District Court, Belton, while serving a 20-year sentence for burglary; pleaded guilty to murder; sentence, additional 99 years. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to accept case until burglary sentence ran out in May, 1955. July, 1955, conviction set aside, freed by court. No compensation.