Ray Krone


Nancy Mullane, a reporter for KALW Radio in San Francisco, is one of the few reporters to visit California‘s death row at San Quentin Prison. In the block she visited, there were 500 inmates, in 4-by-10 foot cells, stacked five tiers high. The cells are about the size of a walk-in closet. Many of the inmates have been on death row for over 20 years. Inmates can shower every other day. One of the inmates she met with, Justin Helzer, had stabbed himself in both eyes. He later committed suicide. California has the largest death row in the country with 727 inmates. No one has been executed in 7 years. Listen to the full segment here.

new animated film, The Last 40 Miles, will follow a death row inmate on his final journey from the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas, to the death chamber in Huntsville. The film uses three forms of animation to tell the inmate’s story, from his tragic childhood to the moment he is being escorted to the lethal injection chamber. The script was written by freelance journalist Alex Hannaford and is based on interviews he conducted with death row inmates for news stories. Hannaford described why he used the metaphor of the trip to the death chamber: “It struck me a long time ago that this was the last thing these men see as they’re escorted from death row in Livingston to the death chamber at the Walls Unit in Huntsville. One of the last things they see is that big Texas sun rising over a vast lake. It’s quite breathtaking.” A trailer for the short film can be viewed here.

One For Ten is a new collection of documentary films telling the stories of innocent people who were on death row in the U.S. The first film of the series is on Ray Krone, one of the 142 people who have been exonerated and freed from death row since 1973. Krone was released from Arizona’s death row in 2002 after DNA testing showed he did not commit the murder for which he was sentenced to death 10 years earlier. Krone was convicted based largely on circumstantial evidence and bite-mark evidence, alleging his teeth matched marks on the victim. The film is narrated by Danny Glover.  All the films will be free and may be shared under a Creative Commons license.

CA InfographicThe Death Penalty Information Center has introduced a new series of graphs and quotes from prominent individuals, emphasizing various death penalty issues. These infographics have been displayed on Facebook and other outlets in the past few months. We are now offering them serially in a slide show on DPIC’s website. The graphics can be individually downloaded for use in various mediums. The slide show is available at this link. The infographics are grouped under a range of topics such as Costs, Race, and Innocence, with more information on each topic available on DPIC’s site. You can also find this collection of infographics on Facebook (click on any “photo” and it will enlarge, and you can scroll through the entire series) and on Pinterest. New infographics will be added in the coming months.



A new documentary released by the Constitution Project and the New Media Advocacy Project commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to appoint lawyers for indigent defendants in criminal cases. Prior to this decision, some states only provided attorneys in cases with special circumstances, like death penalty cases. Defending Gideon is narrated by Martin Sheen and includes interviews with national experts, including former Vice-President Walter Mondale, former N.Y. Times reporter Anthony Lewis, and death-penalty attorney Bryan Stevenson. Clarence Gideon was convicted, without an attorney, of breaking into a pool hall in Florida and stealing money. When he was retried with legal counsel, he was acquitted. The video underscores the importance of guaranteeing effective representation, especially if a person’s life is at stake.

10 years after DNA cleared York County man, death penalty still debated

april 8, 2012 source : http://www.ydr.com

Some believe that Pennsylvania will eventually abolish the death penalty.

Ten years ago today, Ray Krone walked out of an Arizona prison after DNA tests showed he did not murder a Phoenix bartender in 1991.

He became the 100th death row exonoree, and his case came at a time when federal legislators were considering death penalty reform, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

What shook many was that Krone had been convicted twice in the murder, he said.

Krone was a military veteran, a Bible reader, and one of the top graduates in his Dover Area High School class. He had maintained his innocence during the 10 years he spent in prison, two of those years on death row.

“It was a revelation that so many mistakes could have been made,” Dieter said.

In the past 10 years, several states, such as Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey, have abolished the death penalty, Dieter said. Others, such as Maryland, Connecticut and California, are seriously considering it.

The number of executions nationwide has dropped in the last 10 years, and the public is more aware of the errors that can occur.

Pennsylvania to study the death penalty

The last execution in Pennsylvania took place in 1999.

It marked only the third execution in the state since 1976, and in all three cases, the defendants gave up their appeal efforts.

Yet, today, more than 200 remain on death row in the state. Eleven are from York County cases.

A death penalty without executions is not a death penalty, Dieter said.

The state Senate passed a resolution in December authorizing a study of the death penalty.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery/Bucks counties, who sponsored the resolution, said he thinks the review is appropriate, given the studies done by other states. Questions about the cost, deterrence and appropriateness of the death penalty need to be answered, according to a news release.

The study will involve The Justice Center for Research at Penn State,

the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, and the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission.

The task force will study more than a dozen areas, including whether the selection of defendants for capital trials is arbitrary, unfair or discriminatory, and whether adequate procedural protections exist to prevent an innocent person from being sentenced to death and executed.

It will have two years to do the work.

Problems with the death penalty

Some, such as Kathleen Lucas of Springettsbury Township, believe it is only a matter of time until Pennsylvania repeals capital punishment.

Since the 1970s, 140 exonerations now have been reported nationwide, said Lucas, executive director for

Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Six have been in Pennsylvania.

In addition to Krone’s exoneration, the Sept. 21 execution of Troy Davis in Georgia has left a bad taste in people’s mouths, she said.

Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a police officer, but he maintained his innocence until the end. His defense team had argued that some of the witnesses had recanted their statements that implicated him.

Pennsylvania has been singled out for problems with the death penalty, Lucas said. The American Bar Association cited numerous areas for reform in a 2007 report.

Studies have revealed, for example, that 98.6 percent of jurors in capital cases in Pennsylvania failed to understand “at least some” portion of the jury instructions, the report states.

Of those questioned, 82.8 percent of the jurors did not believe “that a life sentence really meant life in prison,” according to the report.

Racial and geographical disparities also exist, according to the report. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court committee found that one third of black death-row inmates in Philadelphia County would have received sentences of life in prison if they had not been black.

Death penalty cases are costly

Lucas questions why the state keeps the death penalty when it isn’t executing anyway. She argues the money spent on capital cases costs three times or more than sentencing a defendant to life.

The average death penalty case in Maryland costs about $3 million, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (citing the Urban Institute, 2008). It’s anticipated the state will pay $186 million for cases pursued between 1978 and 1999. The state has had five executions since 1976.

Death penalty cases demand more work because of what’s at stake, Dieter said. Typically, two defense lawyers and two prosecutors are assigned to the case. They must prepare for two phases — the trial and the sentencing — which require different investigations.

“We’re just throwing money down a big, black hole,” said Marc Bookman, executive director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation.

It also costs more money to incarcerate death-row inmates, Bookman said.

In these tough economic times, Lucas said, the money could be used elsewhere, such as education. Police also could pursue cold cases.

Support of the death penalty

The state District Attorneys Association doesn’t think the death penalty should be abolished, executive director Richard Long said.

It helps to bring a measure of closure to the victim’s family, and it has a deterrent effect as well.

“We think Pennsylvania has decided it’s an appropriate penalty in the most egregious type of murder cases,” he said.

It is the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that is slowing down the cases, Long said. The appeals are not moving through the process and being addressed in a timely manner — no matter what the outcome.

Many cases are being overturned because of problems, such as ineffective counsel, Lucas said.

Some, who started with the death penalty, end up with a life sentence, Dieter said. Pennsylvania has done studies and made efforts to fix problems, but “at this point, I think it’s still not working.”

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said he has taken an oath to uphold the will of the people.

“When we seek the penalty, it is for the worst of the worst, and that is what we’re charged with doing,” he said.

His office takes great pains to consult with the victims, looking at the statute and reviewing the case to determine if the death penalty is a realistic option.

He pointed to the Michael and Nanette Craver case as an example. His office withdrew the death penalty against the couple in the death of their 7-year-old adopted Russian son.

That’s because after talking with experts, it appeared the mitigating circumstances would outweigh the aggravating circumstances. It would have meant a life in prison without parole.

The couple later was convicted at trial of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and conspiracy.

“The taking of a life is a serious business,” Kearney said. “This is not something we do on the fly.”

Kearney said he thinks it’s healthy for the community to discuss the death penalty and whether they believe legislators should change the law.

Local defense attorney Gerald Lord said he has handled numerous death penalty cases in which the defendants are found not guilty of first-degree murder. Some are convicted of lesser charges.

Lord cited the 2003 shooting death of 25-year-old Anthony Lloyd as an example.

A jury acquitted his client, Dorian Eady of Erie, of first- and third-degree murder, attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the case. At one point, he faced a death penalty notice.

Witnesses testified Eady was in Buffalo the day before the shooting and in Erie when the shooting occurred. Eady had always maintained his innocence.

“It’s the ultimate penalty, and if you make a mistake, you can’t take it back,” Lord said.

Ten years later

As for Ray Krone, he moved back to York County and has made attempts to resume a normal life.

He has been thankful for the support of his friends, family and the residents of York County, he said. It has helped him as he has traveled across the country trying to make a difference.

Krone has been an outspoken proponent of abolishing the death penalty. He has spoken with legislators, students and others about his case, wrongful convictions, DNA testing and judicial reform.

Krone serves as director for communications and training for Witness to Innocence, an organization that consists of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones who are fighting to end the death penalty.

Krone said he traveled to Connecticut last year to testify along with Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project for the repeal of the death penalty.

Legislators did not approve the repeal last year, but it is moving through the legislature this year.

“If they could do it to me, they could do it to anybody,” Krone said.


Who is on death row

Eleven people from York County cases are on death row in Pennsylvania.

They are:

— Kevin Dowling, 53, convicted in the October 1997 murder of Spring Grove shop owner Jennifer Myers. The York County District Attorney’s Office maintained Dowling killed Myers to prevent her from testifying against him in an attempted rape and robbery case.

— Daniel Jacobs, 41, convicted in the February 1992 stabbing death of his girlfriend, Tammy Lee Mock of York, and the drowning of their 7-month old daughter, Holly Danielle Jacobs.

— Harve Johnson, 30, convicted in the April 2008 beating death of 2-year-old Darisabel Baez.

— Kevin Mattison, 35, for the December 2008 shooting death of Christian Agosto during a robbery and burglary. Mattison of Baltimore had a previous murder conviction for killing a man in a street fight in Maryland in 1995.

— Hubert Lester Michael Jr., 55, pleaded guilty to the July 1993 kidnapping and shooting death of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng in the Dillsburg area.

— Milton Montalvo, 49, and Noel Montalvo, 48, convicted of the April 1998, stabbing deaths of Miriam Asencio-Cruz and Manuel Ramirez Santana, also known as Nelson Lugo. Asencio-Cruz was Milton Montalvo’s estranged common-law wife, and Santana was her friend.

— Hector Morales, 29, convicted of the July 2009 murder and burglary of Ronald Simmons Jr. Simmons was shot about 12 hours before he was to testify against Morales in a drug case.

— John Small, 52, convicted of the 1981 murder and attempted rape of 17-year-old Cheryl Smith, whose body was found in West Manheim Township.

— Mark Newton Spotz, 41, convicted of the February 1995 shooting death of Penny Gunnet, 41, of New Salem, his third victim in a four-day crime spree through central and eastern Pennsylvania.

— Paul Gamboa-Taylor, 51, pleaded guilty to the May 1991, hammer slayings of four family members: his wife, Valeria L. Gamboa-Taylor; their two children, Paul, 4, and Jasmine, 2; and another child, Lance Barshinger, 2. He received a life sentence for killing his mother-in-law, Donna M. Barshinger.

About the Krone case

Ray Krone was convicted twice and later exonerated in the 1991 murder of a Phoenix bartender.

Kim Ancona, 36, was found stabbed to death Dec. 29, 1991, in the CBS Restaurant Lounge in Arizona.

Police began their investigation, including questioning Krone. Police arrested him on New Year’s Eve.

Krone believed that police, in their investigation, would realize they had the wrong man. But he went to trial in the summer of 1992. An expert presented a videotape showing that a bite sample from Krone matched a bite mark on the victim’s breast.

A jury found Krone guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death.

In 1995, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned Krone’s conviction, granting him a new trial.

At his second trial in 1996, the prosecution argued that the bite marks on the victim’s body matched Krone’s “unique dentition.” Krone’s attorney, Christopher Plourd of San Diego, countered that the bite marks were not Krone’s, and the saliva found on the victim provided a DNA pattern that excluded Krone.

A jury convicted him again.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James McDougall said he had doubts about Krone’s guilt and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 2002, testing of DNA on the victim’s clothes proved Krone wasn’t the killer and instead implicated Kenneth Phillips Jr.

Krone was freed that year after 10 years in prison.

Krone sued Maricopa County in Arizona, and the city of Phoenix over his wrongful conviction. He received settlements totaling $4.4 million.

Krone now lives in Conewago Township.


Life in prison

Is there a difference between how death row inmates versus those sentenced to life without parole live in prison?

The answer is yes, said Sue McNaughton, press secretary for the state Department of Corrections.

Death row inmates are locked in their cells 22 hours a day. They are allowed outside to exercise, to shower or to research their appeals in a mini law library, she said.

When they do leave their cells, they are shackled and escorted by several staff members, McNaughton said.

Inmates who are in for life live in regular housing. In general population, two inmates can live in a cell, but those with lifetime sentences might be offered a single cell.

Inmates serving a life sentence can work prison jobs, she said. They can go to the library to read a book. They are not as restricted.

Ray’s Story – wrongfully convicted

Ray Krone was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. He has been proven innocent and exonerated, and now helps other “exonerees” share their stories of unjust sentences and close calls with state-sanctioned death penalties. Ray works for Witness to Innocence, which receives support from Atlantic, toward abolishing the death penalty throughout America. Atlantic is the largest funder of work to abolish the death penalty in the U.S.

For more info see: http://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/rays-story-death-penalty-mistake

Ray Krone – off death row, man shares experiences

A York County, Pa., man who was wrongly convicted of murder is now off death row and Monday night he talked about his experience with the students of Albright College.

Ray Krone spent a decade in prison and when he was released he said maybe it’s not about the 10 years he lost but what he does with the next 10 years.

“I’m just thankful they didn’t execute me before I had a chance and my family had a chance to bring me home again,” said Krone.

Ray Krone said prior to being convicted in 1992 for murdering a bar manager in Phoenix, Ariz., he didn’t have a criminal record and never questioned the criminal justice system.

Read more : wfmz.com