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Innocent, But Condemned to Die

With last week’s news of the release of two North Carolina men after years on death row coming not long after Arizona botched an execution of Joseph Wood, it can’t be any clearer that this is a wasteful government program gone very bad. KCADP delights in the fact that the interim joint Judiciary Committee of the Kentucky General Assembly devoted two hours on August 1 to a discussion of whether Kentucky should maintain this broken system.

We await further action by this committee and other lawmakers. In the meantime we will keep their attention focused on the system’s waste of Kentucky’s taxpayers’ money and the risk of executing innocent defendants. The ACLU of Kentucky, a key partner in the coalition, is hosting another Witness to Innocence Tour in mid-September. (Watch for another one in November.)

Gary Drinkard

Gary Drinkard spent close to six years on Alabama’s death row before being exonerated in 2001. He was sentenced to death in 1995 for the robbery and murder of a 65-year-old automotive junk dealer in Decatur, Alabama. Unable to afford an attorney, he was assigned two lawyers with no experience trying criminal cases. Despite being at home at the time of the murders, and suffering from a debilitating back injury, Gary was convicted and sentenced to death.

Gary maintained his innocence. Amazingly, the conviction rested primarily on testimony by Gary’s half-sister and her common-law husband, both facing charges for unrelated crimes. In exchange for testifying, all the charges against Gary’s half-sister were dismissed.

In 2000, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct, and with the help of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Gary won an acquittal in 2001.

Gary is coming to Kentucky to share his story of wrongful conviction, and release from death row. All events are open to the public and we hope you invite your State Senator and State Representative to come with you to hear Gary’s story.

BARDSTOWN – Mon: Sept. 22
Basilica of St. Joseph, 310 West Stephen Foster Ave.
7:00 – 8:30 PM

HOPKINSVILLE – Tue: Sept. 23
Hopkinsville Community & Technical College, 720 North Dr.
NOON – 1:00 PM

Sts. Peter & Paul Church, 902 E 9th St.
6:00 – 7:30 PM

EDGEWOOD – Sept. 24
Gateway Community and Technical College, 790 Thomas More Parkway
Lower Building, Room E-101
7:00 – 8:30 PM

Wildwood Country Club, 5000 Bardstown Rd.
NOON – 1:00 PM  This event takes place with a Rotary Club. Open to the public, but $10 for lunch

University of Louisville-Brandeis School of Law, 2301 South Third Street
4:15 – 5:30 PM

St. Edward Church, 9608 Sue Helen Dr.
6:30 – 7:30 PM

Photo: ACLU-KY website

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