Ray Krone co-founded Witness to Innocence with Sister Helen Prejean in 2003. Before his exoneration in 2002, Ray spent more than 10 years in Arizona prisons, including nearly three years on death row, for a murder he did not commit.
His world was turned upside down in 1991, when Kim Ancona was murdered in a Phoenix bar where Ray was an occasional customer, and he was arrested for the crime. The case against him was based largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a supposedly “expert” witness, later discredited, who claimed bite marks found on the victim matched Ray’s teeth. He was sentenced to death in 1992.
But Ray refused to give up his fight for exoneration. In 2002, with the help of attorney Alan Simpson, he convinced an appeals court that DNA found at the murder scene indicated the guilt of another man, Kenneth Phillips. When prosecutors dropped the charges that April, Ray became the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973.
Ray now lives with his partner Cheryl Naill in Tennessee, and devotes his life to improving the criminal justice system that failed him. “I would not trust the state to execute a person for committing a crime against another person,” he 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.”
Read Ray's on-point op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle about how all the buzz around lethal injections is the wrong debate we need to be having: www.sfgate.com