Kirk Bloodsworth is the first person sentenced to death whose exoneration came about thanks to DNA testing. He has, "Overturned." at Huffington Post.
Eyewitness misidentification played a pivotal role in my conviction and is now a major issue in the case of Georgia death row inmate, Troy Davis . In Davis' case, seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted or contradicted their original testimony. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles will review his case on August 9 but he faces execution.
My life changed dramatically when I was arrested for the rape and murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton in August, 1984. I was arrested after an anonymous caller told police that I was seen with the victim the day of the crime and an identification made by a witness from a police sketch that was based on the recollections of five eyewitnesses.
Two little boys described the suspect as six feet five inches tall with a slim build and dirty blond hair -- but at the time of my arrest, I was six feet tall, with a thick waist, fiery red hair, and long sideburns. Even so, I was identified in a line-up as the last man seen with the victim.
My family and friends swore that I was with them at the time of the murder, but the jury convicted me in less than three hours and I was sentenced to death for the crime.
I spent 8 years, 11 months, and 19 days behind bars before DNA testing proved my innocence. After years of urging, officials in Maryland finally ran the biological evidence that exonerated me through the state's database, and it matched the DNA of the person who had committed the horrific crime.
I was a former United States Marine with no criminal record, who was never at the scene of the crime, but I was still convicted and sentenced to death for a crime I did not commit. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Until changes are made in Georgia and elsewhere to ensure that eyewitness identification procedures are accurate and reliable, great caution must be taken in using eyewitness testimony and evidence as the sole means in ascertaining guilt.
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles should grant Troy Davis clemency to ensure that the horrific mistakes made in his case, my case, and numerous others are not repeated.
Tim Junkin's book Bloodsworth, available in the right-hand column, tells the incredible story of his arrest, conviction, incarceration, and exoneration. Kirk now works with The Justice Project.
More Troy Davis coverage is here.