"Tennessee: Death penalty too fallible, irreversible," is Kirk Bloodsworth's OpEd in today's Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Ray Krone seems like your average Tennessee resident. He loves the mountains, fishing, and is proud to call this state his home. But Ray Krone is more than your average Tennessean — he’s the 100th person exonerated from a death row in the United States after DNA evidence proved his innocence.
Before his exoneration in 2002, Krone spent nearly 10 years in an Arizona prison, three of those on death row, for a murder he did not commit. The case against him, in the 1991 stabbing death of a woman who worked at a Phoenix bar, was based largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an “expert” witness about bite marks found on the victim. In 2002, Krone was exonerated when a court found that DNA evidence at the murder scene pointed to another man.
Krone, who will speak about his experience during a visit to Rhodes College on Wednesday, is not alone. In fact, he’s one of 143 men and women in the United States who have been sentenced to death for crimes we now know they did not commit. Paul House, who was convicted in 1986 of murdering a woman in Luttrell, Tenn., is a prime example. For more than two decades, Paul House sat on Tennessee’s death row waiting for the courts to consider evidence, including DNA from the victim’s clothes, which finally led to the dismissal of all charges and his release in 2009. Michael McCormick, convicted of murdering a woman in Chattanooga in 1985, was released in 2007, after 16 years on Tennessee’s death row, when a jury found him not guilty in a new trial based on an unreliable confession and DNA testing of a hair found in the victim’s car.
Kirk Bloodsworth and Ray Krone are members of Witness to Innocence, an organization composed of and assisting death row exonerees.
Earlier coverage from Tennessee begins at the link.