I grew up in York, Pa., with a loving family and many friends. I played
baseball, went hiking with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, attended Sunday
school and sang in the church choir. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my high
school class and did well on my college entrance exams. I decided to enlist in the
Air Force, where I proudly attained the rank of sergeant. I served my country for
seven years and was honorably discharged. My last assignment in the Air Force
was in Arizona. I decided to stay there and joined the U.S. Postal Service.
I had a normal, good life. Nothing spectacular. Then, in an instant, my
turned upside down. I was arrested for the stabbing murder of a local female
bartender. At the time, and quite frankly, throughout the whole legal process, I truly
felt I would be OK. After all, I was innocent. I reassured my family and friends I
would be fine without a private attorney. How could the system fail an innocent
man? I was deeply mistaken.
It was a bar I frequented, and I did know the bartender. Thanks to some
science, bite marks on the body were mistakenly said to have been made by my
I spent 10 years behind bars, including two years on death row, for a horrible
did not commit. It's difficult to describe what it is like to serve time on death row
knowing you are innocent. All you know is that what seems like an awful nightmare
is now reality, a reality beyond comprehension.
I still find it hard to believe that only a few weeks ago I was sitting
in my Arizona jail
cell and today I am a free man. I owe my freedom to the extraordinary efforts of my
family, friends and volunteer lawyers who fought tirelessly for me to obtain the DNA
evidence from my case. The DNA proved my innocence — and a match has now
been been made with the DNA of another man.
What happened to me, unfortunately, has happened to many others. True, I
recently received notoriety — if it can be called that — for being the 100th American
exonerated, but the fact is that being 100 or 99 or 98 doesn't really matter. What
matters is that our death-penalty system is broken. What happened to me can
happen to anyone. And it doesn't have to be that way.
I've learned a lot in the last few weeks of freedom. And one thing I've
learned is that
there are steps our nation can take to improve our death-penalty system. One
important step would be for Congress to pass the Innocence Protection Act. This
act would ensure that people who face the death penalty have greater access to the
DNA from their cases. And it would also help states provide competent legal
counsel in capital punishment cases.
Curiously enough, I still believe in our system of justice. But like any
system, it can
be improved. Even those who support the death penalty do not support putting
innocent people to their death — and leaving the guilty to roam free.
Ten years ago, I was an average Joe who liked delivering the mail. Today,
I'm still an
American with average dreams, but I've had a lot more time to think about things.
I can't afford to look back at what my life would have been like if I had
access to the DNA from my case years ago or if I had listened to my mother and
hired a private attorney. For me, there is no sense in dwelling on what might have
been. The time has come to look at what can be. And helping to make sure that
what happened to me is less likely to happen to someone else is a much better use
of my precious time.
Krone wrote this article with the help of his attorney, Alan M. Simpson.
The above article was originally published on Friday, May 3, 2002 in the
St Paul Pioneer Press
From Commondreams.org at: http://commondreams.org/views02/0503-07.htm
News about Ray Krone's Release below...
person once erroneously branded as the "snaggletooth killer," convicted
of the murder of a Phoenix
cocktail waitress in 1991 and sentenced to death, was proved innocent of the crime in the same test that
not only established that he was not involved in the fatal stabbing, but that also identified the true
perpetrator – a person already incarcerated on another unrelated offense. After being cleared by DNA,
Ray Krone walked out of the Arizona State Prison at Yuma on Monday, April 8, 2002, a free man.
murdered waitress, Kim Ancona, had been cleaning the men's room at the CBS
Lounge in Phoenix
on the evening of December 28, 1991. Her naked body was found in the restroom the following
morning. She had been stabbed eleven times. An examination of the body also revealed that she had
been bitten on the left breast through the tank top she was wearing and on her neck. There were no
fingerprints, and there was no semen although other evidence indicated she had been sexually assaulted.
There was blood, lots of it, but it was typed as being Type O, the same as Ancona, Krone, and some
43% of the population. Forensic DNA technology was not generally available at the time of the
who was a former letter carrier without a criminal record, and honorably
discharged from the
U.S. Air Force, knew the victim, had socialized with her and he had been a customer of the ABC
Lounge to play darts. He also lived close to the bar. Suspicion focused on him and within two days of the
commission of the crime, he was arrested. From then on, he was on the fast track to conviction. Yet,
there was little evidence that tied Krone to the killing except for evidence of the bite mark on the victim's
breast, which a state forensic odontologist said matched the dentition of Krone. Krone had maintained
his innocence from the day of his arrest.
strong evidence of his innocence presented at trial, the circumstantial
evidence used by the State was very weak. It was bolstered, however, by a
type of forensic evidence that still remains highly
controversial in its reliability - personal identification by a bite mark inflicted by an assailant upon a victim.
In fact, the Arizona Supreme Court's en banc decision said that the physical evidence could neither exclude not include Krone as the perpetrator, and without the bite mark evidence the State had no case.
See, State v. Krone, 182 Ariz. 319, 897 P.2d 621 (en banc, 1995).
was indeed the bite mark testimony of Dr. Raymond Rawson, the State's dental
expert, that convinced
the jury that Krone was the killer. According to the Arizona Supreme Court's opinion, defense attorneys
were not informed until the day before the trial started that the prosecution intended to use a videotape
labeled "Bite Mark Evidence Ray Krone." The court said, "The tape attempted to show a match
between Krone's teeth and Ancona's wounds by overlaying the two. It took the dental casts, styrofoam
impressions, and CAT scans of the casts and overlaid them on the actual wounds. The tape presented
evidence in ways that would have been impossible using static exhibits." Dr. Rawson also used the tape
"extensively" during his testimony.
Fig.1: photo of a human bite mark, Fig.2: same wound ten days later. Slide photos:American Academy of Pediatrics, The C. Henry Kemp National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect ©1994 (UMKC School of Medicine/Medical Education Media Center)
the defense's unsuccessful attempt to exclude the videotape or to obtain
a continuance, and its
decision not to call a defense expert as a witness, the jury convicted Krone of first degree murder and
kidnaping, but acquitted him of sexual assault. The judge sentenced Krone to death, after finding that the
murder was committed in an especially "heinous and depraved manner." Krone spent almost three years
on death row, watching other condemned inmates being moved out of the cellblock in which the
condemned-to-death persons were being held before being conducted to their execution.
Plourd, a San Diego attorney who is a member of the prestigious American
Forensic Science's Jurisprudence Section and who specializes in crimes that involve complicated forensic issues, appealed on the ground that prosecutors had not only failed to turn over exculpatory evidence – a test done by Forensic Odontologist Dr. Homer Campbell, also an Academy Fellow, who had concluded that Krone's dentition was inconsistent with the bite marks found on Kim Ancona. but they had also violated the rule requiring them to disclose the State's evidence of Dr. Rawson in a timely manner.
conviction was reversed and remanded for a new trial on June 22, 1995, but
not because of the
failure to disclose the exculpatory evidence. Rather, the court reversed because of the importance of the
State's expert's video evidence on the bite mark and the tardiness in its disclosure to the defense. The
Supreme Court said, "The State's discovery violation related to critical evidence. We cannot say it did
not affect the verdict."
retrial, Ray Krone's hopes that the justice system would prevail where dashed
when he was
convicted again, despite the fact he presented exculpatory bite mark specialists testimony. The second
jury also believed the State's expert, Dr. Rawson. This time, Krone was given a life sentence.
time ago, Krone's family, who had continued to believe in his innocence
through all of his ordeals,
retained another lawyer, Alan M. Simpson of Phoenix, to work with Plourd. By that time DNA testing
was being done routinely on behalf of the prosecution. Krone's lawyers asked that the tank top, through
which one of the bites had been inflicted, be examined for saliva. Not only was saliva found, but the
results showed that Krone could not have been the source of the saliva. Seeking further testing against
the DNA database that the State was now maintaining of its inmates, the results were astonishing: the
DNA strongly associated the evidence with a 36 year-old inmate of the Florence, Ariz., prison, Kenneth
Phillips, who had been convicted of attempted child molestation.
case is clear proof, again, of the power of DNA. Not only did the DNA test
show that Ray
Krone was excluded as the perpetrator, it also identified a different individual who was already
incarcerated in the penitentiary for an unrelated sex crime. On Monday, April 8, 2002, the
Maricopa County attorney's office revealed that the odds were 1.3 quadrillion to 1 that Phillips was the
contributor of the DNA found on Kim Ancona's tank top. And, by the way, Phillips, too, had Type O
blood. What's more, a state dental expert now also opined that Phillips "could not be excluded" as the
person who left the bite marks.
the credit of the local authorities, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley,
at a news conference,
publicly admitted that a mistake had been made and apologized. He, and Phoenix Police Chief Harold
Hurtt announced they would ask for Krone's release pending a hearing to vacate Krone's murder
conviction. Superior Court Judge Alfred Fenzel ruled that it would be an injustice to keep Krone in
custody any longer and ordered his immediate release, pending the evidentiary hearing scheduled for
was a proponent of the death penalty before he was sent to prison. He thinks
differently now after
having lost ten years of his life and sentenced to death as an innocent person, while the guilty perpetrator was at the loose during that decade, free to prey on more victims.
Forensic Evidence.com: http://www.forensic-evidence.com/site/ID/bitemark_ID.html
DNA evidence leads to release of Arizona
man convicted in fatal 1991 stabbing
FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer - Monday, April 8, 2002
DNA tests have won freedom for a man who was serving a life prison sentence for the 1991 stabbing death of a bartender.
Judge Alfred Fenzel ordered Ray Krone's immediate release from a prison in Yuma on Monday after prosecutors said a sample taken from saliva and blood found on the stabbing victim didn't match Krone's DNA. The samples matched the DNA of another man incarcerated for an unrelated sex crime, said prosecutor William Culbertson.
Krone was released later in the day.
10 years I felt less than human," he told Phoenix TV station KPNX-TV, standing
prison's gates. "This is certainly a strange feeling, and I think it'll take a while for it to set in."
Krone's conviction was not thrown out. But Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said if additional evidence showed Krone wasn't involved in the crime, he would ask for the case to be dismissed.
"How do you make it up to a guy who has been in custody for 10 1/2 years?" defense attorney Alan Simpson asked. "Do you just pat him on the back and say 'oops' and send him on his way?"
Kim Ancona, 36, was killed Dec. 29, 1991, at a Phoenix bar where she worked.
Krone, 45, was sentenced to death in 1992, but his conviction was overturned on a technicality. He was retried and convicted in 1996 and sentenced to life.
At trial, prosecution and defense experts differed over whether marks found on Ancona's body matched Krone's bite. An accident left Krone with a distinctive dental pattern.
year, Simpson petitioned a judge to have physical evidence analyzed using
the latest DNA
The test results returned last week showed the DNA didn't match Krone's. Simpson said the DNA extracted from Ancona's clothes was, however, an almost certain match for the other inmate's DNA.
After learning of the evidence, prosecutors filed a motion seeking Krone's release.
From SFGate.com: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/04/08/national2054EDT0826.DTL
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