Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Exonerated former death row inmate speaks at UIS

The first man exonerated from death row because of DNA evidence spoke Monday about the importance of groups like the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project to save wrongfully convicted people from punishment for crimes they didn’t commit.

Kirk Bloodsworth spoke at University of Illinois Springfield’s Brookens Auditorium during a ceremony commemorating the Innocence Project’s receipt of a $687,000 federal grant named after Bloodsworth. The grant will help the Innocence Project aid people like Bloodsworth, who was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in 1984.

The girl was beaten with a rock, sexually abused and then strangled in a wooded area in Rosedale, Md. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985. His lawyers appealed, and he was found guilty a second time. Following the second trial, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

It wasn’t until June 1993 that DNA evidence proved Bloodsworth was not the culprit.

“Basically we just asked the prosecutors in Baltimore County, where this all happened,” Bloodsworth said Monday afternoon. “’There’s this new technology called DNA, and I’d like to take the test to prove once and for all that it’s not me.’”

The appearance was featured in a December 1, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

Download a PDF of the article