Ray Krone, the nation’s 100th death row exoneree, will share his story of being convicted of and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Rose Lecture Hall (EDU 114) at Lee University.
Rev. Stacy Rector, director of Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, will also reflect on the problems with Tennessee’s current death penalty system that lead to the possibility of wrongful convictions. This event is co-sponsored by Lee University’s Sociology Club, Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Witness to Innocence.
Mr. Krone was an Air Force sergeant and later a mail carrier before finding himself on Arizona’s death row for the 1991 murder of Kim Ancona. The case against him was based largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an “expert” witness who claimed bite marks found on the victim matched Mr. Krone’s teeth. In 1992, he was sentenced to death. He was granted a retrial in 1994 only to be convicted again because of the same evidence. In 2002, Mr. Krone became the 100th person exonerated when a court found that DNA at the murder scene pointed to another man, Kenneth Phillips.
Mr. Krone currently serves as the director of Membership and Training at Witness to Innocence, the nation’s only organization composed of, by, and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. Mr. Krone has also recently moved to Tennessee. He devotes his life to improving the criminal justice system that failed him by speaking to hundreds of groups, including numerous universities and law schools across the country, as well as to state legislatures and governmental bodies in England, Sweden, Italy and France. He has been featured in publications and on many radio and television programs, including People and Parade magazines, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and Good Morning America.
“I would not trust the state to execute a person for committing a crime against another person,” Mr. Krone says. “I know how the system works. It’s not about justice or fairness or equality. Any chance I can, whether I start with one or two people or a whole auditorium filled with people, I’ll tell them what happened to me. Because if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.”
In 2011, Gussie Vann became Tennessee’s third death row exoneree when all charges against him for the 1992 murder of his daughter were dropped. Mr. Vann joins Paul House and Michael McCormick, both who fought their wrongful convictions in Tennessee for over 20 years, before new evidence—including DNA—finally led to their release from death row. Rev. Rector states, “Since the risk of executing an innocent person was one of the reasons that members of the Maryland legislature cited when they recently voted to repeal Maryland’s death penalty, this opportunity for Tennesseans to hear Krone’s story is timelier that ever.”