CrimeViral online - Innocence Project online - Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man 2022
Just twenty two years old at the time of his conviction, former Marine, Kirk Bloodsworth is the first person to have been sentenced to death, and then exonerated thanks to DNA testing. Bloodsworth served nine years of his sentence for the murder and rape of a nine year old girl – two of which were spent on death row.
Eye-witnesses described the perpetrator as 6 feet 5, blond and skinny, Bloodsworth however, is six feet tall, was heavily over-weight, and had red hair. In addition, there was no physical evidence tying him to the crime. On retrial, the death sentence was reduced to two life sentences. In the 90s, the advent of DNA testing resulted in his release from jail. He was not exonerated until 2003 when the real killer was identified by DNA evidence added to the federal database. CrimeViral online report ‘10 Miscarriage of Justice that Shocked the World’
Kirk Bloodsworth, a former Marine who had become a waterman on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was the first person to be sentenced to death and then subsequently exonerated. He was 22-years-old at the time of his wrongful conviction and served nine years in prison before he was released.
In 1984, a nine-year-old girl was found dead in a wooded area, having been sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten with a rock.
Bloodsworth was arrested based on an anonymous call telling police that he was seen with the victim that day and an identification made by a witness from a police sketch shown on television. The description of the perpetrator was a 6 feet, 5 inches tall white man with curly blond hair, a bushy moustache, skinny, and tan. Bloodsworth was six feet, had red hair, and was well over 200 pounds.
At trial, five witnesses testified that they had seen Bloodsworth with the victim. However, two of these witnesses had not been able to identify Bloodsworth during a lineup, but had seen him after the crime was committed on television. Testimony that Bloodsworth had said that he had done something terrible that day that would affect his relationship with his wife was presented at trial. Additionally, Bloodsworth mentioned a bloody rock during conversations with police.
Though there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, Bloodsworth was convicted of rape and murder and was sentenced to death row.
The evidence about the rock and the conversation about his wife were challenged in Bloodsworth’s appeals, stating that the bloody rock was mentioned because the police showed him a rock during the interrogation, and the incident regarding his wife amounted to his failure to buy the food she had requested.
Moreover, the police failed to inform the defense that there may have been another suspect. Bloodsworth’s conviction was overturned by the appellate court two years after his original conviction and he was retried – this time, he was sentenced to two life terms instead of death row.
In the early 1990s, Bloodsworth learned about DNA testing and the opportunities it could provide to prove his innocence. The prosecution finally agreed to DNA testing for Bloodsworth’s case in 1992. The victim’s shorts and underwear, a stick found at the scene, and an autopsy slide were compared against DNA from the victim and Bloodsworth. The DNA lab determined that testing on the panties excluded Bloodsworth and replicate testing performed by the FBI yielded the same results.
Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. He had spent almost nine years in prison, two of those years facing execution. Innocence Project online article
‘The first thing out of his [lawyer] mouth is, ‘Kirk, you’re in a lot of trouble’ … We talked about the case for twenty minutes or so … He puts his hand on the glass to say goodbye, he picks up his briefcase, turns around and runs right into the wall.’ Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man, Youtube 1.22.43, 2022
August 9th 2.45 a.m.: ‘I heard this big boom boom boom at the door. It was the Baltimore County Police and they arrested me for first degree murder of Dawn Hamilton.’ ibid.
A hot summer’s day in 1984: a little girl is found brutally murdered and sexually assaulted in the woods in Rosedale … Her killer had strangled her by stepping on her throat. ibid.
25th July 1984: Dawn Hamilton found … ‘This all started because a next door neighbour called the police and said the composite sketch looks like my neighbour Kirk.’ ibid.
‘The state’s attorney called me a monster, the jury convicted and the judge sentenced me to death to cheers across the courtroom. ibid.
‘There was no blood, no hair, no fibres, no nothing.’ ibid.