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Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA (Shannon Ravenel Books)
Synopses & Reviews
Charged with the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in 1984, Kirk Bloodsworth was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in Maryland's gas chamber. From the beginning, he proclaimed his innocence, but when he was granted a new trial because his prosecutors improperly withheld evidence, the second trial also resulted in conviction; this time he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. In jail Bloodsworth read every book on criminal law available in the prison library. When he stumbled across the first use (in England) of genetic fingerprinting, he persuaded a new lawyer to try for the then innovative DNA testing.
After nine years in one of the harshest prisons in the country, Kirk Bloodsworth was vindicated by DNA evidence. He was pardoned by the governor of Maryland and has gone on to become a tireless spokesman against capital punishment.
Bloodsworth exposes the details of inevitable human error in a capital murder case and in a legal system gone awry. And it tells the story of how one man, through dogged tenacity and courage, saved his own life and the lives of many other innocent men on death row. This is a page-turner of a book that will move hearts and change minds.
"Attorney and novelist Junkin (The Waterman) makes his nonfiction debut with the little-known story of Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, who in 1984 was falsely accused of the brutal sex murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland. The local authorities narrowed in quickly on Bloodsworth based on questionable eyewitness identifications, while neglecting a slew of clearly worthwhile leads. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death, before an appellate court found that the state had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense concerning the suspicious figure who had helped direct police to the child's corpse. Yet the retrial again ended with a guilty verdict, although the judge's reservations about the circumstantial evidence led him to impose two life sentences. As Junkin tells it, Bloodsworth's inner strength and determination enabled him to survive in prison and to learn of advances in DNA fingerprinting that led to his 1993 exoneration and Maryland's belated identification of the killer. While this book isn't as gripping as Randall Dale Adams's account of his escape from death row or the writings of lawyer Barry Scheck, Bloodsworth, who became an advocate for abolishing the death penalty, deserves to be better known, and the battery of mistakes that led to his lethal jeopardy should disturb any fair-minded reader on either side of the capital punishment debate. (Sept. 10)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] hard-hitting and moving examination of the first death row inmate whose conviction was overturned through the use of DNA evidence....Outrage-provoking." Booklist
"This book provides a harrowing 'fly on the wall' look at an inmate struggling to survive on death row. Highly recommended." Library Journal
A shocking, page-turner of a book that, as Scott Turow says, "may well be the most incredible and important true story ever written about a death row convict's daily battle for survival, both in the cell block and in the courtrooms."
About the Author
Tim Junkin is a lawyer and an award-winning novelist who lives in Maryland.
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