State of Conviction: Maryland
Wrongful Conviction: Rape, Murder
Exonerated Date: 1994
Years Served: 8 years
An honorably discharged former Marine, Kirk Bloodsworth, is the first person in America exonerated from death row as a result of DNA testing. In 1984, he was arrested for the rape and murder of a child. After Kirk’s conviction was reversed in 1986, Kimberly Shay Ruffner, who was serving a sentence for another rape, was later linked by DNA to the rape and murder. The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1986, finding that the prosecution had illegally withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. Kirk was retried and convicted again and sentenced to two life terms. In 1992, Kirk read about a new forensic breakthrough called DNA fingerprinting, and lobbied successfully for prosecutors’ approval. The tests established Kirk’s innocence and he was consequently released in June 1993.
Source: Witness to Innocence
Read more about Kirk’s story here.