From Publishers Weekly
Attorney and novelist Junkin (The Waterman
) makes his nonfiction debut with the little-known story of Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, who in 1984 was falsely accused of the brutal sex murder of a nine-year-old girl in Maryland. The local authorities narrowed in quickly on Bloodsworth based on questionable eyewitness identifications, while neglecting a slew of clearly worthwhile leads. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death, before an appellate court found that the state had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense concerning the suspicious figure who had helped direct police to the child's corpse. Yet the retrial again ended with a guilty verdict, although the judge's reservations about the circumstantial evidence led him to impose two life sentences. As Junkin tells it, Bloodsworth's inner strength and determination enabled him to survive in prison and to learn of advances in DNA fingerprinting that led to his 1993 exoneration and Maryland's belated identification of the killer. While this book isn't as gripping as Randall Dale Adams's account of his escape from death row or the writings of lawyer Barry Scheck, Bloodsworth, who became an advocate for abolishing the death penalty, deserves to be better known, and the battery of mistakes that led to his lethal jeopardy should disturb any fair-minded reader on either side of the capital punishment debate.
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DNA has so seeped itself into the popular consciousness that it's hard to remember that, in the early 1990s, it was only beginning to emerge as a forensic tool. This hard-hitting and moving examination of the first death row inmate whose conviction was overturned through the use of DNA evidence combines forensic science, knowledge of police procedure (and police malpractice), trial coverage, and chilling representations of prison. The inmate saved by DNA (in 1992) has a name even Dickens couldn't improve upon: Kirk Bloodsworth. A Chesapeake Bay crabber, Bloodsworth was convicted of the mutilation slaying of a nine-year-old girl in 1984. Junkin, an attorney, is at home tracing the police and legal snafus that imprisoned an innocent man. He presents two parallel stories: that of Bloodsworth's conviction and torturous prison experiences and that of the D.C. lawyer who took on his case. Outrage-provoking. Connie FletcherCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved