Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American man on death row exonerated using DNA evidence, recently joined Chesapeake students and community members to discuss his harrowing experience and his work as an advocate against the death penalty. Chesapeake’s Criminal Justice Program and Honors Program sponsored the event.
The 2015 film “Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man” tells Mr. Bloodsworth’s story as a falsely-convicted man on Maryland’s Death Row. Since he was exonerated, Mr. Bloodsworth worked to overturn the death penalty in Maryland. A nationally-touring speaker, Mr. Bloodsworth is a Dorchester County native who now resides in Philadelphia.
“It’s always good to be back on the Eastern Shore,” Mr. Bloodsworth told the Chesapeake crowd. “This will always be home to me, where I can truly be myself.”
An honorably discharged marine and former waterman, Bloodsworth was wrongfully convicted at age 22 of the 1984 rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton in Rosedale, Baltimore County.
Although there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene, Bloodsworth was found guilty in Baltimore County court and sentenced to death. The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1986 after ruling that prosecutors illegally withheld evidence from the defense. He was retried, convicted a second time and sentenced to two life terms. The decision and sentence were affirmed in a 1988 appeal.
In 1992, re-testing of biological material preserved from the crime scene and then-emerging DNA technology incontrovertibly established Bloodsworth’s innocence. He was released in 1993 and received a full pardon from Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer later that year. In 2003, additional DNA testing linked the crime to Mark Ruffner, a fellow inmate of Bloodsworth’s at the Maryland Penitentiary.
Click here to listen to WHCP's Mike Starling interview Mr. Bloodsworth at our event https://soundcloud.com/whcp-radio/kirk-bloodsworth-interview-at-chesapeake-college-27-oct-16
Click here for more information about the Criminal Justice Program http://www.chesapeake.edu/academics/criminal-justice-degree-programs and the Honors Program http://www.chesapeake.edu/honors-at-chesapeake