Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Larry King Live
Interview With Kirk Bloodsworth
Aired July 21, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he was sentenced to death for the brutal rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, and after an appeal, convicted again in a second trial. Somehow, he found the inner strength to survive nearly nine years in prison, until he became the first person in a death penalty case ever to be cleared by DNA evidence. He's Kirk Bloodsworth, and he's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
A new book has just been published. It's "Bloodsworth," the book is about the name of our guest. "The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA." It was written by Tim Junkin, who will join us later. Our friend Scott Turow said "'Bloodsworth' is a tale of courage and determination in the face of the law's worst nightmare." And that, of course, the worst nightmare of all is to be convicted of something you didn't do.
Kirk first appeared on this program when you got out, right?
KIRK BLOODSWORTH, WRONGLY CONVICTED IN RAPE & MURDER OF 9-YEAR- OLD: Right, 1993.
KING: And at that time, they hadn't even found the real killer, and they eventually did, right?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, they did.
KING: Let's go back over the Bloodsworth case. You're 22 years old, right?
KING: You're fresh out of the Marines.
KING: Living where?
BLOODSWORTH: Living in Baltimore, in a suburb called Essex, Maryland.
KING: Know it well. You come home, right, from the Marines.
BLOODSWORTH: Yeah. KING: What happened?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I was discharged, was an honorably discharged Marine from out of the Marine Corps. Just got married to a woman, it's detailed in the book. Lived up in Baltimore County for a little while, and...
BLOODSWORTH: Yeah, I was working at a Wirker (ph) warehouse, it's all detailed in the book. And just trying to start my life, you know. Had started a new life.
KING: Then what happened with this?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, there was a little girl by the name of Dawn Hamilton that was brutally -- found brutally murdered.
KING: Lived in your neighborhood?
BLOODSWORTH: Lived three miles away in a section called Fontana Village. She was found naked from the waist down, face down in a wooded area. Brutally murdered, Larry.
KING: And raped?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. Godawful crime. And, of course, you know, people were looking for her killer. And I have to tell you, they were looking for a man who was 6'5", curly blond hair, bushy mustache, tan skin and skinny.
KING: This was described by whom?
BLOODSWORTH: By the two little boys in the case.
KING: There were witnesses?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, a 7- and a 10-year-old boy. They said they had seen this man in a pond area next to the apartment complex that Dawn lived at. And said -- this little boy called a turtle, and said that this man came up and Dawn was looking for her friends. They were playing hide and go seek, supposedly. And looking for her friends. And he came up and said that he would help find her. Well, Dawn never...
KING: Came back.
BLOODSWORTH: ... came back.
KING: And the boys testified that this is the person who came. So how does Kirk Bloodsworth get involved? What happened?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I really don't know, other than to say there was an anonymous tip put into the police station when I was living up there that said the composite sketch looks like Kirk, my neighbor Kirk. But at the time, my wife and I were having some marital problems, and seen it on the news, knew a little bit about the case and what I read in the newspaper and so forth. But I just couldn't take my life of my ex-wife. We just weren't getting along. She was spending enormous amounts of time out, and I decided to just go home. And it seems like when I did that, the police kind of got a red flag. She filed a missing persons report on me, Larry, and said that I was missing.
KING: So you became a suspect because you left your wife?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I don't know if I became a suspect. I probably became a suspect because they said I looked like the composite sketch of the last person seen with Dawn Hamilton.
KING: Did the police then come to question you?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, they did.
KING: And did they -- can you -- did you account for your time when she was killed?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I really didn't know exactly where I was. It was a few weeks after it. I know one thing, I wasn't out killing a little girl. And...
KING: Had you had any criminal record, or -- none?
BLOODSWORTH: Never been arrested for anything in my life, Larry. Never.
KING: How did they finally come to arrest you? Based on the witnesses?
KING: Did you do a lineup or...
BLOODSWORTH: They first came to me in my hometown of Cambridge, Maryland. They came and asked me to take a Polaroid picture. Well, they put this in a photo array with a lot of other pictures in the photo array, and the little boy, says, well, that looks like him, but his hair's too red. And -- but they just red-flagged me from there. And my hair was as red as a fire plug, Larry, back then. And I didn't have a bushy mustache. I wasn't skinny. I weighed 225 pounds. And I don't tan; I burn. And so they took me in and said that you're going to face the gas chamber for this crime.
KING: And the boys -- there was a trial?
BLOODSWORTH: There was a trial, and it was in March of 1985. First of all, I have to tell you, though, this this is how the lineup went. I want to tell you this because it's kind of important. They put me in a lineup on a Monday and they told the witnesses on a Friday that they were going to have me in a lineup on Monday. So don't watch the TV, because we have arrested a suspect.
When we went to court, all the witnesses said they watched me on TV. I think identification is one of the worst pieces of evidence that you can have in a crime, because I want to tell you that it's going pay a lot -- remember when I was telling you about the 6' 5" guy? Well, the real killer is only 5'7" and he weighs 170 pounds.
KING: The guy eventually caught?
KING: All right. You go on trial, jury trial?
KING: How long was the trial?
BLOODSWORTH: Two weeks.
KING: Did you have a good lawyer?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I want to tell you a story about my lawyer. The first lawyer that came to see me, comes in a prison setting, OK, and it's behind the glass, and he looks at me and he says -- he puts his hand up on the glass and says, "Kirk, I know my way around the criminal justice system and I'm going to find our way out of this problem." And he was a public defender, and he kept talking to me. So I felt pretty confident, and he was competent and everything like that.
And finally, we talked about this for about a half an hour, he puts his hand up on the glass again and he says, "Kirk," he says, "look, I know my way around the criminal justice system, and we're going to find our way out of this problem." He says good-bye, picks up his briefcase, turns around and runs right into the wall. That was my first attorney.
KING: First trial, and they come back quickly, guilty?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. I can't remember how long it was. I think it was less than two hours.
KING: Did you have other family with you there?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, my dad and my mom.
KING: Now, this is the testimony of an 8-year-old?
BLOODSWORTH: And a 10-year-old boy.
KING: And a 10-year-old. That's the only witnesses?
BLOODSWORTH: Right. Which in court, the littlest one of the two never did identify me as the last person seen with Dawn, but the other one did. So it was pretty unshakable.
KING: The remark that came back to haunt you in court, you reportedly told people that you couldn't go back home because you had done a terrible thing. Had you said that? BLOODSWORTH: Well, I said it, but they took it out of context, Larry.
KING: What were you referring to?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I was referring to all the problems that my wife and I were having. She was staying out all night, and there was a lot of things going on. I was -- there was seven people living in the house that I was at.
KING: So what terrible thing, though, did you do?
BLOODSWORTH: I left my wife and left her with the bills, and this was...
KING: That's what you referred to?
KING: They hooked that into the murder?
BLOODSWORTH: Right. They twisted a lot of this stuff around.
KING: The jury reached a verdict in two hours.
KING: When they came back and said -- now, you know you didn't do this.
KING: And said guilty.
KING: What was that like?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, the courtroom erupted in applause, Larry, and said, give him the gas. My knees buckled. I almost went to the ground. I could barely hold myself up. I just, from then on, I just knew that I had to prove it to somebody.
KING: When were you sentenced?
BLOODSWORTH: In March of 1985. It was -- I think it was March 22nd.
KING: March after the trial?
BLOODSWORTH: Right, right, it was a little bit after the trial.
KING: And what was -- what were you sentenced to?
BLOODSWORTH: Death. Death and double life.
KING: Death what?
BLOODSWORTH: Death and double life.
KING: Death and double life?
KING: In case you lived through the death?
KING: Kirk Bloodsworth is our guest. The book is "Bloodsworth." A panel at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After nine years in prison, some of it on death row, Kirk Bloodsworth walked out of the Maryland house of correction on Monday a free man, thanks to modern science.
BLOODSWORTH: My comment is that I'm happy to be out, and I'm ready to get started with my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOODSWORTH: Since my arrest, I've lost so much. The death of my mother, being the most painful. Along with everything else on top of it, that was the blow that nearly put me over the edge. But as she knew her son wasn't a killer, I couldn't and wouldn't give up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with an incredible story that we might call law and disorder. The case of Kirk Bloodsworth, a freeman now, but God what he went through. So now what prison were you in?
BLOODSWORTH: The Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore City.
KING: Convicted of child rape and murder.
KING: How were you treated?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I got to tell you, you're the lowest man on the totem pole in that society. Actually, I'm under the rungs of the ladder.
KING: Did they beat you up?
BLOODSWORTH: Oh, yeah. I got hit in the back of the head with a sock full of D batteries, struck right back here, split my head open. Some big fellow from -- it's in the book, saved me from possibly being raped. And -- you know, but I gave as good as I got. I remember one time I hit a guy with a mop ringer, because he wouldn't leave me alone. He was one of the people that hit me in the head with the batteries.
KING: How did the guards treat you?
BLOODSWORTH: Like crap. I mean, I was accused of killing a child. I even had the warden tell me that some of the guards are worse than inmates. I even had him tell me that.
They asked me one time -- they said, Kirk, you want to go on a painting detail. I said sure, sure, I'll go on a painting detail. Where do you want to go? We want to take you up to the gas chamber and paint it real nice for you debut, Captain Kirk.
KING: Did they give you a date of your death?
BLOODSWORTH: No, sir. I got a stay of execution pending appeals.
KING: You were right under -- your cell was under the gas chamber?
BLOODSWORTH: Yeah. For two years.
KING: Was anyone killed while you were in prison?
BLOODSWORTH: No. It was -- it happened, John Thanos was executed the year after I got out.
KING: You got a second trial based on what?
BLOODSWORTH: Based on what's called Brady evidence, exculpatory evidence that tends to prove that -- or say that the person on trial didn't commit the crime.
KING: You had a new lawyer, then, right?
KING: Did your parents help get you?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. They spent every dime they had to try to get this guy. And he was, I'd say he was a fairly good attorney. However, you know, the outcome wasn't what it's supposed to be.
KING: So you lost the second time around based on the same evidence? Kids called back in to testify?
BLOODSWORTH: Right. Same people.
KING: Different judge.
BLOODSWORTH: Different judge. Except this time, he gives me life instead of death. KING: Because?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, he said -- he used the mitigating circumstance that at the time of the trial -- I mean, at the time that the crime occurred that I was 22. And I was young. And I was young at the time.
My thing was is that they were putting people in jail and putting them on death row a lot younger than that. And I just think he just, even though he didn't do anything about it, he just didn't agree with the verdict.
KING: Did you know this girl?
BLOODSWORTH: No, sir.
KING: Never met her?
BLOODSWORTH: Never met her in my life. Never, ever. And never stepped foot in that place called Fontana Village.
KING: So, you go back to the same prison?
KING: How does this eventually lead? It seems hopeless for you now, right?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, I'm pretty done. Just don't know what to do.
KING: And during this, what keeps you going?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, my faith. I'm an innocent man, Larry. From the day I got in the police car, from the very day -- as a matter of fact when I threw my head over the shoulder to talk to the cameras of the police, I told them I was not guilty. I was an innocent man. And that, and my faith in God, in something bigger than me, pulled me through this thing.
KING: And now, many, many people have been released since you based on DNA?
KING: Which tells us there are innocent people tonight in prison.
BLOODSWORTH: You're exactly right. We have -- the National Institute of Justice, back in 1985, made a statistical study that 10,000 people are put in jail for crimes they didn't commit. There's been over 100 -- and I've got it right here, there's been over 117 people exonerated by DNA evidence that sat on death row.
KING: But how did the DNA evidence then come to you? How did it work? BLOODSWORTH: Well, I was a prison librarian for about seven years, while I was in there. I loved to read. So I was sitting in my cell one day. And I happened to get this book by Joseph Wambaugh because, called "The Blooding." I happened...
KING: First book written about DNA, in London.
BLOODSWORTH: Right. And I happened to meet the guy.
KING: I know Joe.
BLOODSWORTH: Oh, really? He's a great guy.
KING: You met the Scotland Yard guy?
BLOODSWORTH: I met Dr. Alec Jeffries. I was flown over there as a special guest to him. He got the lifetime achievement award for the Pride of Britain Awards.
KING: That was a book about DNA.
BLOODSWORTH: Right. And what they did to make a long story short, they DNA tested the entire male population of Norboro (ph) and caught this guy named Colin Pitchfork in the end. And he -- I mean, he was the guy that committed the crime. He actually confessed, I believe, before they told him the DNA evidence was consistent.
KING: How did that get you out?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I had what they call a eureka moment at that time. It was just like a light bulb went off in my head. I remember coming up out of my bunk and smacking my head, and just looking at this book, just saying to myself unbelievable, I have to get this stuff done. This was in '89, right after his book came out. And I called Bob Moore (ph) in, who is a judge now. He was on the show with us when we first got out. And he said, Kirk, there's no DNA to test. And I said...
KING: The body's buried.
BLOODSWORTH: Right. But we happened to look for the evidence. And some clerk told my lawyers, said go ask Judge Smith. Well, the evidence was kept in his closet.
KING: Evidence of?
BLOODSWORTH: Dawn Hamilton's panties and the stick and her clothes.
KING: They stayed?
BLOODSWORTH: They stayed right in her -- in his closet all that time. He had it locked up.
KING: Wow. BLOODSWORTH: I mean -- now here is a really unique piece of it. There was a spot on her panties about the size of a quarter with an arrow pointing right to it. Now, FBI agent testified at the trial that there was no identifiable semen on the panties. And we have talked to some experts since then saying that any, any person that had any sense would know what that was. And we sent it out to California. And it took a year to get back. And the guy said, it's not his. Dr. Edward Blake, forensic science laboratories.
KING: And you went -- your lawyer immediately, what, goes to a judge?
KING: Dismissed the sentence?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, the state in their agreement with us, wanted to have their own experts look at the evidence. Well, they concluded again that you know, they called -- it took about three months. But I lost a lot between that time, Larry, before I got out.
KING: Did somebody pass away?
BLOODSWORTH: My mother, you know. She died.
KING: Never got to see you free?
KING: Your dad live?
BLOODSWORTH: Yep, he's still alive.
KING: We'll be right back with Kirk Bloodsworth. This incredible book, incredible story "Bloodsworth." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 26-year-old Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted twice for the 1984 sexual assault and murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton. Today, as he's done all along, he maintained his innocence and made a desperate plea for his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 1993, sperm samples proved Bloodsworth wasn't the killer. He became the first death row prisoner to be exonerated by DNA.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We're back with Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person to be convicted in a death penalty case and later to be exonerated by DNA evidence and eventually, the actual killer subsequently found. The day you got out...
BLOODSWORTH: It was unbelievable. It was June 28, 1993, and I walked out of prison a free man. I mean...
KING: Were the prisoners happy?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. Everybody was screaming.
KING: The warden happy?
BLOODSWORTH: They were screaming. Yes. It's -- guards, some of the people -- some of the people I had made friends with.
KING: So, they had gotten to know you and probably believed you.
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. A lot of people did.
KING: So, your father was there?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. Yes. He was standing right there along with my cousin, David and everybody, you know, standing right by my side. I come out and go in a police car and the local rock station there in town came there and picked me up in a limo and it was great. And a lot of things...
KING: Now, it still wasn't easy to find work, though -- right?
BLOODSWORTH: It was -- it's hard to find a job, because when you go to go look for one, they have that little question under there, that says "have you ever been convicted of a crime." Yes, but I didn't do it and they -- so, I had to bring my pardon from the governor.
KING: Why'd you need a pardon? If you were ...
BLOODSWORTH: Well, in order to get compensation in Maryland, which I got, it was $300,000, I had to be pardoned first.
KING: OK. So, in addition to be exonerated, you had to be pardoned?
BLOODSWORTH: Right. So, I had to do that in order to get that. So they wanted my release papers. They wanted a copy of my pardon. So, I had to take all this, but Larry, when I was in -- going through all this, I used to have people write "child killer" in the dirt on my truck.
I go to this house and this man said are you that guy? You know, I'm giving him my spiel and I'm telling him what I'm there for and I'm there, you know, to help get membership -- to take money for clean water and for clean air and he says: Are you that guy on TV that just got out of prison. I said -- I said, "Yes," thinking I was going to get, you know: OK, good for you and all that. But I didn't. He walks me down the sidewalk, pointing at me, just like that, saying "child killer in the neighborhood. Child killer in the neighborhood," and he calls my boss -- I mean, calls the sheriff. The sheriff calls my boss. This is what I had to live with while I was home.
KING: What are you doing now?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I'm a program officer for the Justice Project. Criminal justice reform head fund in Washington, D.C. I've -- our organization, we -- it's a nonprofit organization that -- it's policymakers to tell flaws about the system about cases...
KING: It's got something to do with that new law that passed -- right?
BLOODSWORTH: Right. I had a lot to do with it.
KING: President Bush signed it?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, he did. The day before my birthday.
KING: This law says what?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, the Justice for All Act of 2004 would have the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program that would give $25 million over five years to states to defray the costs of DNA testing.
KING: So then, a person convicted of a crime could get his DNA done.
BLOODSWORTH: Right. If you have an actual claim of innocence, like mine and he can have that test done and that would help a lot of people. It also does a lot for rape victims as well and victim's rights period.
KING: You've since remarried?
BLOODSWORTH: Yes, to a lovely woman named Brenda and...
KING: Any children?
BLOODSWORTH: No, sir, but I have a cat and my life is full.
KING: How did they find the real person?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, they -- I get this phone call back last September from the prosecutor herself. And she calls me on the phone and says, I want to talk to you about the Hamilton murder.
Well, Larry, I don't even want to talk to this lady. I mean she called me a monster and almost had me executed because she believed I was guilty. But I said the only thing I could say to her at the time, I said, "what can I do for you?" And she says: I want to talk to you about the Hamilton case and update you on it, but I've got to tell you in person. So, I met her at the Burger King in Cambridge, Maryland, along with my attorney and my wife and my cousin. She tells me that this fellow by the name of Kimberly Shea Ruffner committed the crime and -- remember about that 6'5" reference I was making? He's 5'7" and...
KING: Where'd they catch him?
BLOODSWORTH: He was right in prison with me for five years.
KING: How did they DNA him?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, they put this in a database called CODIS and it's the Combined DNA Index System and back in 1994, they were DNA testing all the known sex offenders and people of crimes in Maryland. But they didn't put the -- do the test until 2003.
KING: This guy was in prison with you?
KING: Did you know him.
BLOODSWORTH: Yes. Yes, gave him library books and everything.
KING: And he never told you he did what you were in for?
BLOODSWORTH: Never. Never. Would never -- and you know, looking at it in hindsight, I see that he would never look me in the eye. He would always cast his gaze to the side. But, you know, I was looking for a 6'5" guy.
KING: What did he get, life?
BLOODSWORTH: He got life and he was already in there. He was released from -- or wasn't convicted of another crime for two little girls in 1983 and '84 I believe and he was let go in July of the early -- I think it was July the 12th of '84, and Dawn Hamilton was murdered on the 25th.
KING: Do you realize no DNA: You're still in prison.
BLOODSWORTH: That's right.
KING: And so are hundreds of others.
BLOODSWORTH: That's right. That's extremely right.
KING: Without DNA.
BLOODSWORTH: Well, DNA -- what DNA has done is shown us that we have a problem
KING: Sure. BLOODSWORTH: And this system is definitely flawed and broken. We definitely need systems put in place that would help these errors to be, like, not happening at all.
KING: What a story. Kirk Bloodsworth. The book is "Bloodsworth." And when we come back, a panel will join us. Kirk will remain to discuss this incredible story. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How did you resist, like, banging your head against the wall?
BLOODSWORTH: I used to scream and holler, trying to get somebody to listen. I actually, when I was first arrested, used to beat on the bars and get people to come up and talk to me and I would tell them, "You know, you got the wrong man. You're holding the wrong man. You're holding me hostage."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bloodsworth's emotional release came after his conviction for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl was overturned, based on...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For years on death row, Kirk Bloodsworth shared the same weight room and library books with another red-headed inmate, Kimberly Ruffner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. An incredible story of Kirk Bloodsworth. That's the name of the book, "Bloodsworth." The first person to be convicted in a death penalty case and later exonerated, subject of the book.
Joining us in New York, is Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist who has dealt many, many times with cases dealing with harmful to minors. In Boston, is Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. In Pittsburgh, is Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist. And in Washington, is Tim Junkin, attorney and author of this book.
Tim, how did you come across the idea of doing this as a book?
TIM JUNKIN, AUTHOR, "BLOODSWORTH": Well, I was -- have been a trial lawyer for 25 years, Larry, and I had written two novels, and I came across this story about Kirk. And so I approached Kirk. And my idea was to try to, you know, write a book with journalistic integrity, of course, to research every aspect of this story, and to tell a true story. But I've got to tell you, Larry, I had no idea what I was about to get involved in. I mean, you know, as the elements came together, as I did the research, it just -- I guess with a novelist's instincts, it became clear to me that this was going to read like -- it had to be written to read like, you know, the ultimate crime thriller, but it was true. And Kirk is very modest about his accomplishments, but not only to prove that he was innocent, after what he went through, but then to go on -- and it was really Kirk's lobbying that caused the prosecutors to finally take the DNA and put it in the database and prove who actually committed this crime.
KING: Wendy Murphy in Boston, it must be horrific for a prosecutor to send someone away for something they didn't do. What's your reaction to this?
WENDY MURPHY, PROSECUTOR: Boy, Larry, it is horrifying. And having been a prosecutor and convicted many, many people, I can safely say, at least to my knowledge, that I've never done that. But you know, you've got to cut the prosecutors a little bit of slack here, because they did have an awful lot of evidence that pointed at this man. I mean, I'm glad he's free. I don't really know what happened. But what they had wasn't just the statements of a couple of boys and a mistaken ID. There were actually five people, three adults, in addition to the two children, who put together the picture that implicated this man.
He made statements, again, you know, I don't want to retry the case, but he said when he ran away from his wife, he said, "I did a terrible thing." He told this to lots of people. And when people asked him once he was implicated what he meant by that, he said, "I forgot to buy my wife a taco." And tonight, I'm hearing he's saying that the terrible thing was something different.
And, Larry, the most important...
BLOODSWORTH: You're taking that out of context, Wendy. You're taking that way out of context. This is the problem that I'm trying to tell people in the United States. You're talking about a taco salad, and you've got a 9-year-old little girl sitting there dead. Now, what -- why don't you say what the real facts are, and say that they had Ruffner's stuff come in early and never did nothing about it. They sent me to death row.
MURPHY: Kirk, I'm not -- I'm not suggesting Mr. Ruffner didn't do it or wasn't involved. I'm just trying to explain why the prosecutors...
KING: She's trying to say why they did what they did.
MURPHY: ... tried you twice. And during the interrogation the police did with you, they put the child's underpants in front of you, and you spontaneously said, "I didn't kill the child," and then for absolutely no reason that you've yet explained, you talked about a bloody rock at the crime scene. It hadn't yet been publicly known. There was no way anyone except someone at the scene could have known, and you knew about the bloody rock. I'm not saying Mr. Ruffner is innocent and you're guilty. I don't know what happened. You know, whatever it was, let's say you were both there...
KING: But you do believe in the science of DNA, don't you?
MURPHY: I absolutely believe the DNA places Mr. Ruffner there. And I think he's responsible. I don't doubt it at all. But Larry, DNA doesn't always tell the whole story, and I'm just trying to explain why it is that the prosecution went after this man.
Some people might think they were both involved.
KING: All right, Dr. Wecht, what's your read on this story as a forensic pathologist?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: My read is that the DNA evidence is clear. I first met Kirk Bloodsworth at a University of Maryland Law School symposium. I was very impressed with his story, invited him to Duquesne University to participate in our first national conference on DNA, with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld and others.
You know, it's just amazing to me, after 42 years in this business, and I testified in five murder cases in the last five days, four of which were for the prosecution, but when I hear comments like those made by Ms. Murphy, I really am repulsed. She doesn't really know what happened, and she's not really sure. You know...
MURPHY: I admit that.
WECHT: ... there's certain mentality about prosecutors...
MURPHY: You don't know either, Cyril. You weren't there either.
WECHT: ... that is absolutely so incredible -- oh, wait a minute, what does that mean, Ms. Murphy, that I don't really know, I wasn't there? Then you are suggesting, are you not, despite your words that gee, maybe Kirk Bloodsworth was there with Mr. Ruffner? Why don't you say that then.
MURPHY: I said I don't know.
WECHT: That is I think disgusting. I think it is absolutely preposterous and...
MURPHY: The DNA doesn't tell the whole story and you know it.
KING: Hold on. I think, Wendy, when he says when you say something like "I don't know," after the DNA has cleared him and the man has gone through this, it would be like me saying, oh, I don't know if Wendy Murphy was there.
MURPHY: No, Larry, all I'm saying...
KING: No, I mean, you know, that's guilt by disassociation. MURPHY: No, all I'm saying is, sometimes we just get distracted, and we get mystified by DNA hype in these kinds of cases.
KING: Why is it hype if it's scientific?
MURPHY: I don't know (INAUDIBLE). It doesn't explain what happened.
WECHT: There is nothing -- there is no hype about DNA. There's prosecutorial hype. There is no hype about DNA.
MURPHY: Oh, yes, there's a lot of hype about DNA.
WECHT: When you do -- oh?
MURPHY: Oh, yes, there is. How about the DNA hype in the Central Park jogger case? People actually think that five men falsely confessed because one man's DNA was found on the victim's body. What a bunch of nonsense. That's just hype.
JUNKIN: Larry, can I interject something here?
KING: Before you come in, Tim, I want to bring Dr. Ludwig in. As a psychotherapist, what it must be like to deal with when you didn't do something and being accused of it. You ever had to deal with anyone like that?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I think in part, we are seeing a little bit of what happens tonight on this show, that there is a loss of reputation, and that the innocent person often feels like they need to explain their innocence over and over again.
But very often, innocent people who have been convicted, they suffer from acute depression, panic attacks. Usually, they're angry, and understandably so. They feel like they don't belong anywhere. And at times, they can even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, from what they've experienced in prison, because they've been abused or raped or endangered in some way. And many of the best years of their lives had been robbed from them.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back, and let Tim Junkin jump in. And we don't want to jump on -- make this a panel all against Wendy, so we'll give her some time to elaborate on her thoughts, without convicting someone innocent at the same time. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back. Tim Junkin, the attorney and author of "Bloodsworth" was going to say something and we cut you off, Tim with regard to what Wendy had said -- Tim.
JUNKIN: One of the things I wanted to say in response to what she said, I think one of the things this book is about is the sort of smug and unbridled arrogance that people in power sometimes take on, people who can't seem to be able to admit that they made a mistake when confronted by overwhelming evidence of that fact.
In this case, there were five witnesses who testified that they saw a strange man by the pond and that one man took little Dawn Hamilton into the woods and raped and murdered her.
Now, there was semen found all over her clothes eventually by Kirk Bloodsworth and his lawyers. And that semen was not Kirk Bloodsworth, it belonged to Kimberly Shea Ruffner, and Kimberly Shea Ruffner this past May -- I was present -- pled guilty to having murdered and raped Dawn Hamilton by himself.
Now, for Miss Murphy or anybody else to suggest otherwise is patently absurd and indefensible.
KING: Tim, how did you know -- before I get back to Wendy -- about the rock?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I didn't know about it. They did a -- what they call, like a skit. They had what is called psychological profiles done by the FBI. So, they put this rock on me which I thought had something red on it and I just said that I thought that they're trying to make me think that it had blood on it, plus some panties. They got the panties from a local store, right in town, and took a rock out of the parking lot.
KING: Wendy, isn't the first role of a prosecutor to disprove the evidence?
MURPHY: Well, if you have...
KING: So that he or she is absolutely certain that they are not getting into something that they're sorry for.
MURPHY: There is no prosecutor I've ever met who would want to put an innocent person behind bars, period. And we do have an imperfect system. Look, when jurors make judgments about who is telling the truth, they are doing the most imperfect thing of all in the system, they're guessing who is telling the truth. And I can't fix that, Larry.
All I'm saying is, the public appellate court decision in this case lays out the evidence, which it is reasonable to read as a very strong case against this man. And, you know, the extent to which people want to condemn the prosecutor for doing a bad investigation...
BLOODSWORTH: It's wrong.
MURPHY: Mr. Bloodsworth, according to the appellate court decision, not only did you say that you had done a terrible thing, and you were afraid your wife would leave you for the bad thing you did, you said you wanted yourself to be locked up in a mental hospital for the bad thing you've done.
BLOODSWORTH: I did not say anything about that.
MURPHY: That's what the appellate decision says. BLOODSWORTH: I don't care. I never said I wanted to be locked up in a mental hospital.
MURPHY: That's been reported, sir. I'm just telling you what's out there.
BLOODSWORTH: Well, it's inaccurate, lady.
JUNKIN: Larry, I think this shows how...
KING: Wendy, you're not saying that DNA is not a good science.
MURPHY: No, no, no. Of course not. Look, DNA is a very important tool that tells us the truth about one thing. It tells us who was at the scene of the crime. And in this case, it absolutely tells us Mr. Ruffner was involved, did rape and kill this child. I don't doubt that for a minute. What I think we have to be careful about is thinking that just because there is DNA at a crime scene that that tells us the whole picture.
I mean, look, for example in a rape case, 85 percent of rape defenses are based on the concept of consent. And yet, we sometimes talk about DNA in the crime scene being the woman's body, sometimes telling us the truth about what happened in a rape case. And obviously, the presence of ten men's DNA, in addition to the perpetrators would tell us absolutely nothing about whether the woman consented. And we have to be smart about this.
KING: Dr. Wecht...
JUNKIN: Larry, please go ahead.
KING: No, go ahead.
WECHT: You were going to ask -- I was going to say, I would love to see the fervor, dedication and commitment that is manifested by prosecutors, especially those who are looking for reelection and higher office down the road, channeled toward obtaining more funds for forensic science laboratories so that we could expedite the examination of rape kits. I would like to see that kind of passion dedicated toward hiring more people who would be involved in the forensic science or criminal justice system.
And just a little sideline too, this is not the subject for this evening, I would love to see the day when prosecutors step in and see to it that the kind of brutality that takes place in the prisons of America is stopped. And that the people who commit these crimes, even though they are clothed in the garb of jail guards, are put in jail and prosecuted for seeing to it that people are raped under their own eyes and sometimes set up. That's what I'd like to see Miss Murphy and other people devote some energy to.
KING: Dr. Ludwig, of the whole system which you're involved in, because you testify don't you?
LUDWIG: I don't do that, no. I stay away from that. KING: All right. Then as a professional and as a human being, does it give you pause to know that so many people convicted of so many major crimes, have been released?
LUDWIG: Yes. It's of great concern to me. We would like to believe in our system. And it's the best thing that we know. We'd also like to think that guilty people are put in jail and innocent people are set free. But that's not always the case.
I'd like to think it's true too. But there's poor lawyering, overzealous prosecutors, tunnel vision for investigators. There's faulty eyewitnesses that can put away people and false confessions. And the more sophisticated we become in understanding these issues, perhaps we can work at tightening up the system that is good, but imperfect.
Because it's really upsetting to think that innocent people are spending some of the best years of their lives behind bars where they shouldn't be.
KING: We'll be back with more moments with our panel and Kirk right after this.
KING: Wendy Murphy in Boston, are there ways we can correct injustice, do you think?
MURPHY: Larry, there's no way we can spend too much money trying to make our system do a better job and protect people who are innocent from being wrongfully convicted. I think we do a pretty good job, we don't do a perfect job.
But what I'm worried about is that we're going to overemphasize the value of DNA as the thing that tells us the truth about an entire criminal episode. It just doesn't do that, Larry. And the downside of overemphasizing is, is that frankly, we are being misled by the data, the DNA data that keeps getting fed to us in the newspapers and on television programs that says something like 140 or whatever the number is at this point, innocent men have been released from prison based on DNA evidence that has proved their innocence.
That's just not true. That number of men may well have been released from prison, or they've been granted new trials, but the percentage of actually innocent men is tiny, perhaps a handful of those are, in fact, innocent.
KING: Would you agree with that, Kirk? Most people in prison are guilty?
BLOODSWORTH: Well, I would definitely agree with one thing, that DNA doesn't prove that everybody is, indeed, necessarily innocent, but it does prove that we had a problem. She sits there on one hand and says that we can't use DNA as an infallible thing. Yet if it points to her defendant that she's got in court, she's going to send his butt to jail.
MURPHY: I didn't say that.
WECHT: So Larry, that's the point -- Larry, that's the point I wanted to make. We've had a couple of serial killers recently found, one in our community, one in New York, one on the West Coast on DNA. I haven't seen any statements from the prosecutors in those jurisdictions suggesting for one moment, you know, that may not really be the whole story. Man, they seized upon that with an eagerness that was just absolutely -- there's no hesitation.
KING: That's the role of our society, though, that's what a prosecutor does. That's what a defense -- Tim, do you see any corrections?
JUNKIN: Excuse me? Do I what?
KING: Do you see any corrections, do you see anything, any light on the horizon?
JUNKIN: Well, I mean, I think one of the important things to recognize is, I think Ms. Murphy's got her facts wrong. If you look at the information coming out of the Innocence Project, and there are now like 50 satellite Innocence Projects around the country, they've shown that over 150 men and women serving long prison sentences, in fact, were innocent for the crimes that they were convicted of, and that's been shown through DNA. The scary thing is that you have to remember...
MURPHY: Are you...
JUNKIN: ... excuse me, that DNA only exists, the DNA only exists in about 10 to 15 percent of criminal investigations. So...
MURPHY: Tim, I want you to promise me...
JUNKIN: That means that we have...
MURPHY: Promise me that you will give me the underlying raw data for the study results you've just announced.
JUNKIN: You can get the raw data.
MURPHY: The Innocence Project people won't give out the raw data.
JUNKIN: I'm not going to argue with you over the data.
MURPHY: I don't believe what you just said. No one's ever released the raw data.
JUNKIN: My point is -- Larry, my point is it's only 10 to 15 percent of -- I mean, DNA only exists in a very small minority of cases.
KING: Well, why can't you give her the names of those people? JUNKIN: Just go to Barry Scheck, go to the Innocence Project in New York. Go to Cardoza (ph) Law School. Go to Northwestern Law School. It's all over...
BLOODSWORTH: I can give you some names, Larry. I can give you some names. I can give you plenty of names.
MURPHY: Give me the raw data.
KING: Barry won't?
MURPHY: No, I mean, I want them to give...
BLOODSWORTH: I am sure that Barry can give you a whole bunch of names. I can get some names.
KING: One at a time, Kirk.
JUNKIN: They have the name of every single person who has been exonerated. They have their names. You can go look up their files. You can go look at their cases if you doubt. Every one of them is in the public. I mean, it's not a debatable issue.
KING: One at a time.
JUNKIN: The point is, it's actually a small minority...
MURPHY: That's just false. You should not mislead the public. They're not, in fact, innocent. Just because new DNA tests provide evidence that had the science been around 10 or 15 years ago, might have provided admissible evidence in the case, does not mean they have been proved innocent. You have to stop misleading the public.
JUNKIN: Look, lady, lady, you get on this show and suggest, first of all that Kirk Bloodsworth might have been involved in this crime with your innuendo.
MURPHY: I don't know.
JUNKIN: There's not a thing you say that I think has the slightest bit of credibility after that.
MURPHY: You don't know, I don't know, and the DNA doesn't tell us the truth.
KING: But you do know that the other guy did it, right, and he confessed?
MURPHY: I do agree with that, Larry, yes, I do.
KING: It's pretty firm if a guy said he did it.
KING: Kirk, Kirk...
MURPHY: Doesn't explain all the evidence against Kirk. I haven't yet heard the explanation that makes sense.
KING: In other words, Kirk, what she's trying to say is this...
BLOODSWORTH: I'll tell you why they went after Kirk.
KING: ... based on what they had, was it logical for them to go after you?
BLOODSWORTH: I don't think so. I don't think they were looking at the whole picture. My past history.
KING: Do you ever say to yourself...
BLOODSWORTH: My past history. I've never been convicted of a crime in my life. Never. Anything. I mean, I have never done anything, Larry. And I think you have some way -- I was honorably discharged out of the Marine Corps. You know, she comes on here and says to name some names. I certainly will name some names. Rolando Cruz, Dennis Williams, the Ford Heights Four. I can keep going down the road. Ray Krone. A bunch of other ones.
I mean, you know, she sits there and says that on the same token, we can't trust this DNA, but put everybody behind bars that has positive DNA in their case. Yet, when she sits there and talks about it, why did he let these people out? Do you think a prosecutor's going to let a guy out that's been charged with killing a 9-year-old girl? I don't think so.
MURPHY: That's not the issue.
JUNKIN: Keep in mind, exactly what Ms. Murphy is saying is the point, is there was evidence against Kirk, and they got the wrong man. And it can happen so easily. That's what the book's about. That's what the book shows.
KING: All right, the question is, we want to do more on this. I thank you all very much. It has been an intriguing -- and we just skimmed the surface on law in America.
Kirk Bloodsworth, thank you. Best of luck.
BLOODSWORTH: You're welcome, Larry.
KING: Wendy Murphy, thank you. Tim Junkin, Dr. Robi Ludwig, Dr. Cyril Wecht.
The book is "Bloodsworth." I'm Larry King, and we thank you very much for joining us.
Intriguing. Don't go away. I'll be right back.
KING: There is a Web site where you can learn more about the Bloodsworth case, the Justice Project, the Innocence Protection Act and the book about Kirk's case. It's www.cjreform -- that's one word -- cjreform.org.
Stay tuned for "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown. It's next. See you tomorrow night. Good night.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com