This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Book Review: Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA

After the stylized novels I've read, my next read was a nonfiction story. The true story about a man who was wrongly convicted -- twice -- for the brutal rape and murder of a nine year old girl.

It was an odd transition from prose to 'straight-talk' writing. But the story is fascinating, in a not so fascinating way.

Kirk Bloodsworth was accused, tried, then convicted of this brutal crime. I'm not bringing any spoilers here, since this has been publicized so much.

After nine years in prison, two on death row, DNA resuts revealed that Kirk Bloodsworth could not have commited the crime. Unfortunately, it took another ten years for the real killer's DNA to be analyzed to reveal his identity.

The outline of events of how Kirk even entered the picture as a suspect is disturbing. The novel depicts how witness IDs are influenced by the media, and even by investigators. This case, in particular, shows how folks decide who their suspect is and wrap the evidence around that suspect.

It's a true horror story. An innocent man who is really, a nobody, in this world. The nobody has nobodies for friends. His alibi can't be corroborated...well, it can, but because it was decided that he was 'the man' -- his nobody friends corroboration was ignored.

Once arrested, he was deemed the most vile and evil criminal ever. Trial was set and even though there was no physical evidence pointing at him as the perpetrator, he was convicted and sentenced to death row. An appeals court came through at some point and Kirk Bloodsworth had a chance at a second trial...only to be convicted again. This time, however, instead of death row, it was life in prison.

The book elaborates on the injustice of a system that only wants to get their man and get it over with, no matter what the cost. In this case, an innocent man sent to prison. His family going broke, believing in him and doing what they could do get him out. And a child's killer, undiscovered for nearly twenty years after her horrendous rape and murder.

This book reveals how mucked up the system is. How the poor have no chance since decent lawyers will only speak to you for ~$100,000. Otherwise, your at the state's mercy with their public defenders. Why do our state public defenders have to be stereotyped to be the dregs of the legal system?

It's a hard read. Reading into someone's nightmare. Fortunately, for Kirk Bloodsworth, he made it out due to sheer luck at finding people who were willing to listen to him *and* believe in him...and most importantly, get him out of jail. It really makes me wonder how many other folks are in his shoes but unable to have that same luck that hit Kirk Bloodsworth.

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