Saturday, 23 February 2008

Ex-death row inmate shares story with law students

Once sentenced to die, Ray Krone with Witness to Innocence spoke at U of L's law school yesterday. (By Chris Hall, The Courier-Journal)

He was exonerated by DNA evidence

By Jessie Halladay
The Courier-Journal

Ray Krone knew Kim Ancona casually because she worked in a Phoenix bar where he went to play darts and have drinks.

Despite adamantly denying any involvement in her murder, Krone was sentenced to death in 1991 in her case. After an appeal was granted and he was given another trial, he was found guilty a second time.

But after 10 years in prison, Krone walked out a free man -- exonerated by DNA evidence that linked the crime to another man.

Yesterday, Krone told his story to a group of students and others at the University of Louisville law school.

"I want you to remember my story," he said. "I want you to think about it when you're representing someone. I want you to give (your clients) your very best."

Krone's speech was co-sponsored by the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He also was to speak at Centre College in Danville last evening.

Krone became the 100th person who had faced the death penalty to be exonerated with evidence of their innocence. Since 1973, 126 people have been exonerated by new evidence.

Since his release, Krone has spoken about his experience as a way to motivate people to think about what he describes as a flawed justice system. He is the director of communication and training for Witness to Innocence.

Krone said he doesn't set out to change people's minds, but rather to get them to think about the issue.

"Anything that can take your liberty or your freedom from you, you ought to know a lot about," he said during his talk.

The Rev. Patrick Delahanty of the coalition said he found Krone's story a powerful example of how the justice system can malfunction and the need for reforms.

"When there's a system that is as broken as this one is, we don't understand how people wouldn't want to fix it," Delahanty said.

For Catina Cochran, Krone's story of life in prison while trying to fight for his freedom gave her new perspective on the death penalty.

"I used to be for the death penalty, but now I'm taking a second look at my views," said Cochran, a U of L junior who hopes to go to law school.

Krone's "personal story did make an impact on me, how he persevered and never gave up," she said.

Reporter Jessie Halladay can be reached at (502) 582-4081.

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