A bill that would make it law in Tennessee for evidence collected in a case where someone is sentenced to death to be preserved until the defendant’s execution or completion of sentence made it out of committee with a unanimous vote on Wednesday, following the testimony of an exonerated death row inmate.
House Bill 2613, co-sponsored by Representative Jeremy Faison and Representative Darren Jernigan, was set up to allow evidence to be tested when new technologies arise or when new information becomes available in a case that could change the outcome of the verdict.
To make the importance of the bill known, the representatives had Ray Krone, a man who was found guilty of murder in Arizona who now lives in Cocke County, testify in front of the committee.
“It took a three day trial, took the jury just three and a half days to convict me.” Krone told the committee. “My folks had to come see me handcuffed and shackled.
Krone maintained his innocence throughout his ten years in jail, three of which years were on death row, and luckily, he was able to find justice.
The shirt of the victim in the murder was tested for DNA, and investigators found the blood on the victim’s shirt did not belong to the victim or Krone, but another person.
“That DNA not only saved my life.” Krone explained. “It also, because it was preserved by the Phoenix Police Department, it identified the true murderer.”
Krone said he would still be sitting in jail today if it weren’t for the proper care of the physical evidence in this case, which is why he testified for the committee.
“It’s really hard for me to understand why anybody would oppose this issue.” Krone said. “It’s not protecting the guilty, it’s protecting the innocent and giving them the opportunity to prove their innocent.”
Members of the committee thanked Krone for his testimony and thanked Representative Faison for bringing the bill forward.
The bill was approved in committee unanimously.