Kirk Noble Bloodsworth
Contributor

Kirk Bloodsworth's case was the first capital conviction to be overturned as a result of DNA testing in the United States. A former Marine, he was convicted of sexual assault, rape, and first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to death in 1984. The ruling was appealed on the grounds that evidence was withheld at trial, and he received a new trial. He was found guilty again and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

After years of fighting for a DNA test, evidence from the crime scene was then sent to a lab for DNA testing. In 1993, final reports from state and federal labs concluded that Bloodsworth's DNA did not match any of the evidence received for testing. By the time of his release, Bloodsworth spent nearly nine years in prison, including two on death row.

Almost a decade later, on September 5, 2003, the Maryland State's Attorney announced that a DNA match had been made in the nearly 20-year-old case. That person pled guilty on May 20, 2004 to the murder for which Bloodsworth had been wrongfully convicted.

Today, he is a Program Officer for The Justice Project and The Justice Project Education Fund, and he has been an ardent supporter of the Innocence Protection Act (IPA) since its introduction in Congress in February 2000. The IPA established the "Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program," a program that will help states defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.

Bloodsworth has spoken about the terrible injustices of the capital punishment system on numerous television shows, including Oprah, and his story has been featured in national publications, including the New York Times Magazine.

The dramatic story of Bloodsworth's 20-year journey is chronicled in a book by Tim Junkin, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, which you can purchase online.