Earth Notes
4:42 am
Tue February 21, 2006

Death Penalty Apology

2/21/06 – Ray Krone was arrested, charged, convicted and
sentenced to death for the 1991 slaying of a bartender
at a Phoenix lounge where Krone played darts. Much of
the case against him was the testimony of an expert who
said Krone's teeth matched bite marks on the victim.
That first verdict was overturned on technicalities --
including that prosecutors never disclosed that there
was another expert who said the bite marks did not
match. He was convicted again. But this time the judge,
questioning whether Krone really was the killer,
refused to sentence him to death. That opinion provied
preecient when DNA found at the scene was tested and
pointed to another man -- a man who lived close to the
bar and who was already in prison on an unrelated sex
crime. Huppenthal said this is a truly tragic case.

(But in a way it's a lesson for us all that this can
happen in modern society. When we think we have
foolproof systems where we think this would never
happen, it has happened. And we need to be aware that
it truly could happen again. And is likely happening
again.)

The occasion for the apology was that Krone, who now
lives in Pennsylvania, was in Phoenix to hold a press
conference with the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish
the Death Penalty.

(It's a little overwhelming. It's a little overdue. And
I'm very humbed, honestly by it, to see the legislators
actually stand up in the Senate and clap and offer me
that apology that I wish my family was here with me
because they certainly deserve it every bit as much as
I do.)

Krone said his case proves the death penalty should be
legally abolished. But Huppenthal said he is not
willing to go that far, instead preferring only
guidelines for prosecutors to use when deciding when to
seek capital punishment.

(He provides some suggestions what you shouldn't do
with the death penalty. He had no track record of
violence. He had no track record of sexual misconduct.
I think if you have a case like that, that's not a
death penalty case.)

But Krone said what's needed are changes in the law,
not guideposts for prosecutors. Since being exonerated
he has received settlements from lawsuits against
Phoenix and Maricopa County totaling $4.4 million. So
does that compensate him for what happened?

(How long would you go to prison for for a million
dollars? It doesn't compensate. But it is a step in the
right direction. Whereas some people served the same
time I did, went through the same hardships and got
absolutely nothing.)

In Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.