April 9, 2002 -- An inmate freed from prison Monday is the 100th person in the United States since 1973 to be released for a crime that put him on death row, death penalty activists said today.
Ray Krone was convicted in the 1991 stabbing death of 36-year-old Arizona bartender, Kim Ancona, and sentenced to death, although he was later retried and sentenced to life in prison because of a technicality.
Prosecutors asked last week that Krone, 45, be freed after DNA tests determined that saliva and blood found on Ancona did not come from Krone, but from another man, a convicted sex offender.
In Krone's trial, experts differed over whether teeth marks found on Ancona's body matched Krone's bite, which had a distinctive dental pattern from an accident he had when he was younger.
Krone's defense attorney, Alan Simpson, petitioned last year to have evidence tested again using the latest technology.
When the results pointed to another man, prosecutors asked for the release. A judge agreed today, and Krone walked free.
"Everything's brand new," said Krone. "It's like life's starting again, and I can't dwell on what I've lost. I only have a little bit of my life left, and I don't want to ruin it with anger."
Advocates opposed to capital punishment noted the 100th release today to call for a moratorium of death sentences.
"Today our nation reached a shameful milestone of 100 death row exonerations," said Wayne Smith, the executive director of the Justice Project in a statement. "One hundred innocent lives were put at risk, 100 victim families had to relive the horror of the crime, and 100 times our system failed us in its most important task."
"These exonerated people represent the exception to the rule in the U.S. capital punishment system — meanwhile other innocent people awaiting their executions on death row may be erroneously killed," said William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "U.S. governors must acknowledge the inherent flaws in the system, and call for an indefinite halt to executions in their states or risk blood on their hands."