Kirk Bloodsworth First DNA exoneree in a capital conviction in the U.S.

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.

Bloodsworth was found guilty and sentenced to death in March of 1985 for the murder of nine year old Dawn Hamilton.

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.