Two prosecutors accused a man of plotting to murder one of them. Years later, a different story emerged.

The Hit Plot

Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus, special prosecutor Vince Biskupic
Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus appears in a Winnebago County court Aug. 30, 2002.  Right: Special prosecutor Vince Biskupic gives opening statements in a 2013 trial in Oconto County Circuit Court. The two prosecutors accused Mark Price of planning a “hit” on Paulus from prison — a charge that was later tossed out. Mike De Sisti / Appleton Post-Crescent and H. Marc Larson / Green Bay Press-Gazette

Episode 3 Transcript

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, Sheila Berry was the director of victim assistance in Outagamie and later Winnebago counties. Berry said she originated the use of victim impact statements in Wisconsin in which survivors and loved ones describe the toll of a crime for a judge to consider in sentencing.

Sheila Berry
Sheila Berry was the director of victim assistance in Outagamie and Winnebago counties. She was working for Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus in 1990 when he prosecuted Mark Price for murder. At the time, Berry thought Price was guilty, but she later became convinced of his innocence. Berry is seen here in a file photo from the 1990s. Photo courtesy of the Berry family

In 1991, Berry was in the Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office, working on a case against Mark Price, who was convicted of murder.

“I thought he really did it,” she said.

But some years later, Price told Berry his side of the story. And she started to have doubts.

“He’s one of the most painfully honest people I’ve ever encountered,” Berry recalled. “Kind of crude around the edges, but he doesn’t make stuff up. And when he tells a story, he tells it the same way every time because he tells the truth.”

By this time, Berry had lost her job after accusing her boss, Joe Paulus, of misconduct in the infamous 1991 Multiple Personality Rape Case. As previously reported in Open and Shut, Paulus is the former Winnebago County district attorney who spent six years in prison after he was convicted in 2004 for taking nearly $50,000 in bribes.

Mark Price
Mark Price was prosecuted by Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus for a 1989 murder, but he has always maintained his innocence. While in prison, Price was prosecuted by Vince Biskupic, initially Winnebago County deputy district attorney and then Outagamie County district attorney, for a supposed murder plot against Paulus. That conviction was later vacated when it was revealed that Biskupic withheld evidence pointing to Price’s innocence. Price is seen here in 2008. Wisconsin Department of Corrections

But when she blew the whistle on Paulus, Berry said, “Nobody believed me. For years, everyone thought he was wonderful.”

Berry left Wisconsin and became a true crime author. And she started a nonprofit called Truth in Justice, which highlighted wrongful convictions and the factors that contribute to them.

One day, Berry said she received a letter from Price, “going on page after page about how his rights had been violated, and I wrote back and I said, ‘I don’t want to hear about your rights being violated. I just want to know what really happened.’”

Price claimed Paulus had prosecuted him for a murder he did not do.

She thought, “‘Oh my God, what have I done?’”