They Served A Total of 229 Years
DNA testing has exonerated 18 people previously on Death Rows in 11 states, according to the Innocence Project. They served a total of 229 years, including 202 years on Death Row, for crimes they didn’t commit.
Here are the cases cited by the project:
Kirk Bloodworth was exonerated in 1993 after serving eight years in Maryland state prison for a murder and rape he didn’t commit—including two years on Death Row.
DNA testing freed Rolando Cruz and his co-defendant, Alejandro Hernandez, in 1995. The men served more than 10 years on Illinois’ Death Row for a murder for which both were innocent.
Two men were sentenced to die in 1978 for a pair of murders they didn’t commit in Illinois. Vernal Jimerson and Dennis Williams were cleared in the infamous Ford Heights Four case. Jimerson was cleared in 1995 after more than 10 years on Death Row and Williams served nearly two decades on Death Row before he was cleared in 1996.
Robert Miller left Oklahoma’s Death Row after nine years for a murder and rape he didn’t commit. He was cleared by DNA testing in 1998.
Ron Williamson was freed in 1999 after spending 10 years on Oklahoma’s Death Row after the Innocence Project secured DNA testing for a murder he didn’t commit.
Innocence Project client Ronald Jones spent a decade on Illinois’ Death Row for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence in 1999.
Earl Washington, a Virginia man with limited mental capacity, was sentenced to death after he allegedly confessed to committing a 1982 murder he didn’t commit. He served a decade on Death Row, once coming within nine days of execution, before receiving a stay. He would serve a total of 17 years behind bars before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project cleared him in 2000.
Cancer claimed the life of Florida Death Row inmate Frank Lee Smith 11 months before he was cleared by DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project. Smith served 14 years for a murder and rape he didn’t commit.
Charles Irvin Fain spent 17 years on Death Row in Idaho before DNA testing exonerated him in 2001 for a murder and rape he didn’t commit.
In 2002 DNA testing proved Arizona Death Row inmate Ray Krone innocent of a murder and rape he didn’t commit. Krone served 10 years in prison—including four years on Death Row.
DNA testing proved Nicholas Yarris innocent and led to his release in 2003 after he had served more than 21 years on Pennsylvania’s Death Row.
DNA testing exonerated Ryan Matthews in 2004 for a murder he didn’t commit. Matthews served five years on Louisiana’s Death Row for a murder he didn’t commit before he was exonerated by DNA testing in 2004. His co-defendant, Travis Hayes, was sentenced to life in prison and served eight years before he was cleared in 2007.
After serving 21 years in an Oklahoma prison—of which nearly 18 years were spent on Death Row for a murder he didn’t commit—Curtis McCarthy was exonerated by DNA tests secured by the Innocence Project, freeing him in 2007. Based on what the project called forensic misconduct, he was convicted twice and sentenced to death three times.
Innocence Project client Kennedy Brewer spent seven years on Death Row of a total of 15 years behind bars for a murder and sexual assault he didn’t commit before DNA testing from 2001 finally led to his vindication in 2008.
Lawyers at the Innocence Project obtained DNA testing for client Michael Blair to prove his innocence for a murder he didn’t commit. Blair served 13 years on Death Row before being exonerated in 2008.
Damon Thibodeaux was exonerated in 2012 after spending 15 years on Death Row in Louisiana for falsely confessing to the killing of his cousin.