|Date / Location:||1984, Rosedale Maryland||Conviction:||First degree murder, rape, sexual assault|
|Year of Conviction:||1985||Release Date:||Jun-93|
|Sentence:||Death||Sentence Served:||8 years, 2 spent on death row|
|Real perpetrator found?:||Yes||Contributing cause to wrongful conviction:||Eyewitness mis-identification, Tunnel Vision|
Kirk Bloodsworth spent eight years in prison, two of those on death row, for a crime he did not commit. Bloodsworth was convicted of a brutal attack on a nine-year old girl. DNA testing both excluded Bloodsworth as the child’s killer and helped convict the real killer.
On July 25, 1984, nine-year old Dawn Hamilton was abducted, sexually molested and murdered in the woods near a family friend’s home. Two young boys had seen Dawn walking with a man immediately before she disappeared. They gave a description of the man to police, who created a composite sketch and published it in the newspaper. A few days later, a woman called and said that the sketch looked like a man named Kirk who worked at a furniture importing company not far from the scene of the murder. The police brought Bloodsworth in for questioning, but he steadfastly denied committing the crime.
Detectives took Bloodsworth’s picture and presented it as part of a photo array to the two boys who had seen the victim’s abductor. One of the boys couldn’t pick out anyone from the photo array. The other boy said that he thought Bloodsworth looked like the man, but that the hair color was not quite right. Nevertheless, police got a warrant for Bloodsworth’s arrest. After the arrest, at an in-person lineup, one of the boys identified a police officer who was filling in the group of suspects. The other boy was unable to identify anyone at all.
Nevertheless, at trial, both boys testified that Bloodsworth had been the man who took Dawn Hamilton into the woods on the day she was killed. Neighbors testified that they had seen Bloodsworth in the area of the murder that day. Police reported that Bloodsworth had mentioned a “bloody rock” as the murder weapon, information that had not been made public. Bloodsworth had no real alibi. He was found guilty and sentenced to death in March of 1985.
It wasn’t until 1993 that Bloodsworth was finally able to prove his innocence. Although no biological evidence had been presented at trial, Bloodsworth and his attorneys pressed authorities to re-examine evidence from the scene of the crime. Semen was found on some of the victim’s clothing. In May 1993, DNA testing excluded Bloodsworth as the source of the semen, proving his innocence. In June 1993, Bloodsworth was released from prison. Later that year, he was pardoned and eventually was given $300,000 dollars in compensation from the state of Maryland.
Although DNA testing proved Bloodsworth’s innocence, it wasn’t until 10 years later that the testing helped identify the real killer. In 2003, authorities finally ran the perpetrator’s DNA sample through a database, and the real killer was identified. The man confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison.
Kirk Bloodsworth speaks all over the country about his experience. A provision in the 2003 Innocence Protection Act providing grants to fund DNA testing was named – the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program – was named in his honor.