Kirk Bloodsworth,
others make case
against death penalty

Staff Writer

Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death in March 1985 for the brutal rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl found in the Maryland woods one year before.

But there was a problem. He didn’t do it.

It’s been 12 years since Bloodsworth was released from prison as a result of DNA evidence prosecutors presenting the case claimed they did not have. He continues to dedicate his life to advocate against the death penalty.

He visited St. James Church in Woodbridge June 28 — the anniversary of his release — with the anti-death penalty organization New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP) to tell his story.

“On Aug. 9, 1984, I heard a knock on my door,” Bloodsworth said, as he thumped his fist on the church lectern several times. “I went to the door in no shirt, no shoes, and silk running shorts. It was an August night not unlike tonight — hot and humid — at quarter to 3 in the morning. I opened the door and a voice said, ‘You’re under arrest for the first-degree murder of Dawn Hamilton.’

“They pushed my head down as they put me into the police car, and it was the last time I saw Cambridge, Md., for eight years, 11 months and 19 days,” he said.

Bloodsworth then told the audience of about 40 people in first few rows of church pews exactly what Baltimore County authorities accused him of doing to young Dawn Hamilton.

“It’s very graphic,” he said. “This 9-year-old girl who never hurt a soul, her head was crushed by a rock. Her throat was stepped on so forcefully that an imprint of the sole of the sneaker was left in her skin. She was naked from the waist down. Her panties were discarded in the tree next to her body. A stick was pushed up inside her. That’s what I was accused of doing.”

Authorities were looking for a man approximately 6 feet, 5 inches, with curly blond hair, a bushy mustache, tan skin and skinny.

“I wasn’t skinny,” Bloodsworth said. “The only resemblance I had was I was a white male and I had a mustache.”

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