Contact: Stacy Rector, Director, Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
(Nashville, TN) Ray Krone, the nation’s 100th death row exoneree, will share his harrowing story of being convicted of and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit on Thurs., Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Campus Ministry at Maryville College. Rev. Stacy Rector, Director of Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP), will also reflect on the problems with Tennessee’s current death penalty system that leads to the possibility of wrongful convictions. This event is co-sponsored by the Maryville College Center for Campus Ministry, Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Witness to Innocence.
Ray 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 Ray’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, Ray became the 100th person exonerated when a court found that DNA at the murder scene pointed to another man, Kenneth Phillips.
Ray 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. Ray 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,” 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.”
Since 1976, 142 individuals have been exonerated from death rows across the country when evidence of their innocence came to light. In Tennessee, three death row inmates have had all charges against them dropped or were found not guilty in new trials, making them all death row exonerees. Gussie Vann had all charges against him dismissed in 2011 for the 1992 murder of his daughter. Paul House and Michael McCormick both fought their wrongful convictions in Tennessee for 20 years before new evidence—including DNA—finally led to their release from death row.
“The questions raised by the death penalty touch the heart of what we mean by justice in this country, and how justice is carried out," said the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, Maryville College campus minister. "Hearing Ray Krone’s story provides an important opportunity for reflection and dialogue for the campus and the community.”
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state‘s third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester was 1,168.