May 16, 2019, Erica Commisso - The Philadelphia Inquirer
Kirk Bloodsworth has been through hell. In 1984, at 22, he was charged in Maryland with the murder of a girl he didn’t know — 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton. She had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten with a rock. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death.
The problem was, he wasn’t guilty.
Bloodsworth spent nine years in prison, including two years on death row, reading and trying to find a way out. He found it in DNA testing after discovering the work of British geneticist Alec Jeffries. DNA testing eventually led authorities to Kimberly Raffner, an acquaintance in Bloodsworth’s cellblock whose DNA matched the sample found on Dawn’s underwear. Raffner eventually confessed. On June 28, 1993, nearly a decade after he was convicted, Bloodsworth became the first person on death row exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States.
Just over 25 years later, Bloodsworth has become a part of the movement to end capital punishment. Now, he crosses the country telling firsthand prison stories and serves as interim executive director of Witness to Innocence. He has settled in Ambler, and has discovered a new passion: silversmithing.