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Kirk Bloodsworth
Kirk Bloodsworth

Incident Year: 1984

Jurisdiction: MD

Charge: Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape

Conviction: First Degree Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape

Sentence: Death

Year of Conviction: 1985

Exoneration Date: 6/28/93

Sentence Served: 8 Years

Real perpetrator found? Yes

Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct

Compensation? Yes

Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted in March of 1985 for the brutal killing and sexual assault of a nine year old girl. The victim was found dead in July of 1984. She had been strangled, raped, and beaten with a rock. Bloodsworth was arrested based on an anonymous call telling police that he was seen with the victim that day and an identification made by a witness from a police sketch that was based on the recollections of five eyewitnesses. At trial, all five witnesses testified that they had seen Bloodsworth with the victim. Also presented at trial was testimony that Bloodsworth had said that he had done something terrible that day that would affect his relationship with his wife. Additionally, he mentioned a bloody rock during the investigation. A shoe impression was found near the victim but a forensic analyst testified that he did not find any identifying features in the print.

This evidence was challenged in Bloodsworth’s appeals, which asserted that the bloody rock was mentioned because the police showed him a rock during the interrogation. The incident he mentioned regarding his wife amounted to his failure to buy the food she had requested. Moreover, the police failed to inform the defense that there may have been another suspect. Bloodsworth’s conviction was overturned by the appellate court and he was retried. This time, he was convicted and sentenced to two life terms, to run consecutively.

In 1992, the prosecution agreed to DNA testing to be performed by Forensic Science Associates. The victim’s shorts and underwear, a stick found at the scene, and an autopsy slide were compared against the blood standards of the victim and Bloodsworth. Using PCR based DNA testing, FSA determined that the amount of spermatozoa on the slide was insufficient for testing. Testing on the panties excluded Bloodsworth. Replicate testing performed by the FBI yielded the same results.

Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. He had spent over eight years in prison, two of those years facing execution.

Bloodsworth also became the first person to be exonerated from death row through postconviction DNA testing. The recent introduction of the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 establishes the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Program, which will provide funding for testing under the act. Learn more here about the IPA and read Bloodsworth’s remarks on the bill.
Kirk Bloodsworth
Kirk Bloodsworth

Incident Year: 1984

Jurisdiction: MD

Charge: Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape

Conviction: First Degree Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape

Sentence: Death

Year of Conviction: 1985

Exoneration Date: 6/28/93

Sentence Served: 8 Years

Real perpetrator found? Yes

Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct

Compensation? Yes