Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Exonerated Death Row Inmate Speaks Out-Flint Adam

Just hours after Cecil Johnson Jr. was put to death, another former death row inmate spoke out against capital punishment.

Ray Krone sat on Arizona's death row for five years until DNA evidence proved he was not a killer.

Now, he says the justice system can make mistakes, and that we're better off without executions.

Only hours after Tennessee executed its sixth death-row inmate since 1960, the nation's 100th exonerated death-row inmate took the podium at Belmont University and shared his story.

Ray Krone was convicted in the killing of a waitress in Arizona in late 1991.

Despite proclaiming his innocence, he was sentenced to death.

The Reverend Stacy Rector - an anti-death penalty advocate - says his story may be all too common among death-row inmates.

"It is not a perfect system - no human system system is - and we know mistakes get made, even with the best intentions," Rector says.

As it turns out, a mistake was made.

It took ten years, three months, and eight days, but DNA evidence finally proved Krone was not a killer.

As Krone told the audience at Belmont, the DNA, in fact, nailed someone else - a parolee who lived not far from the bar where the murder happened.

"I believe there's a lot more innocent people in there than there are the few of us that's been released," says Krone.

Since his release in 2002, Krone has made a living touring the country and speaking out against the death penalty.

"Hopefully, through education - through thoughtful process we can re-evaluate how we treat our crimes and our victims and make it better for all the families involved in this horribleness," Krone says.

139 death row inmates have been exonerated, nationally, since 1973.

39 of those exonerations have come in the seven years since Krone's release.

According to data from the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing -- that means there is approximately one exoneration for every nine executions in the U.S.

"We have to ask ourselves why we continue to take that kind of a risk," Rector says.

Rector and krone hope discussions like this can change the conversation.

Tennessee is home to two exonerated death row inmates.

In 2007, Michael McCormick was found not guilty in a new trial after spending 20 years on death row.

Paul House spent 22 years on death row before all charges against him were dropped this past May.

click on the heading to hear the interview.


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