The story of Kirk Bloodsworth would make a great drama. This American spent almost 10 years of his life, including 2 on death row, for the murder and rape of a little girl when he was completely innocent. Today, he tells his story and campaigns against the abolition of the death penalty by making jewelry for men. An article was dedicated to him by the Inquirer, a major Philadelphia newspaper:
Kirk Bloodsworth has been through hell. In 1984, when he was only 22 years old, he was accused in Maryland of the murder of a little girl he did not know, 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton. She had been sexually assaulted, strangled and stoned to death. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death. Yet he was completely innocent.
He spent 9 years in prison, including 2 on death row, reading in order to find a way to prove his innocence. He found his salvation in DNA testing after discovering the work of British geneticist Alec Jeffries. DNA analysis eventually led to Kimberly Raffner, an inmate Kirk knew. The DNA fingerprint matched perfectly with the scans of the girl's underwear. Raffner eventually confessed. On June 28, 1993, almost a decade after his conviction, Bloodsworth became the first death row inmate in the United States to be exonerated by DNA testing.
Now, almost 25 years later, Bloodsworth has joined the movement to end capital punishment. Today, he travels to the 4 corners of the United States to tell his story. He is also the acting director of the association Witness to Innocence. He now lives in Ambler, and has discovered a new passion: making silver jewelry.
Men's silver jewelry
Bloodsworth started a company called Bloods Stones. He creates jewelry for men that tells his story. In particular, he made a necklace with a DNA-shaped pendant. He also created "rings for acquitted convicts". There are a total of 351, or one per person who has experienced the same ordeal as him. Each of them will receive a ring as a gift. The centerpiece of his men's jewelry collection is a 28g silver ring inspired by a dream he had in prison: in that dream he was given a Super Bowl ring, which is American football. that the gold medal is at the Olympics.
“I wanted to give them a piece of jewelry that symbolizes what they have endured as human beings. A symbol that will go down in history," he said. " In 100 years, these rings may be in the window of an antique jewelry store, an exhibition, and they may be said to be rings that symbolize someone's unjust condemnation. It could also be the symbol of an ancestor who was the victim of an injustice. »
Raymond Santana, who at the age of 14 was one of the 5 convicts of the "Central Park Five" to be unfairly accused of rape and assault, is among the people who will receive this men's ring in gift. "This ring makes me really proud, " said Santana, who was the producer of the documentary The Innocent Man, about Bloodsworth's life. "It's like a football championship ring, it represents the hurdles we had to overcome to win, in our case the criminal justice system. We had to fight and never give up. »
Bloodsworth doesn't just make men's jewelry for innocent convicts. He also creates rings, bracelets and necklaces inspired by nature, things for women. He likes to use light blue and green stones. He uses metal, but also pearls. He discovered this passion while he was moping around in utter boredom.
“I have been making jewelry for 3 years. I never thought I would enjoy jewelry so much," he said. “My girlfriend makes pearl jewelry. One fine day, I asked him if I could try. I was just looking for something to do to occupy my mind, I was going crazy when I had just quit my job, and I was living far from everything. But when I started, I couldn't stop. Within a week, I had used all the pearls she had. It has become an obsession. »
It was immediately after that that he learned to work with silver metal. "I started watching videos about jewelry making, and then it all came together insanely," he said. “I must have watched 400 videos, then I took classes for 2 months in San Francisco. Since then, I haven't stopped. It became obsessive, I love doing that. »
Until further notice, Bloods Stone will remain an important chapter in Bloodsworth's history. “I can't see myself stopping making jewelry for men, but I can't stop campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty either. Time is precious, I want people to understand that this mistake stole a big part of my life. But I still want to stay positive and have fun," he said. "Moping over the past wouldn't be very productive. Our time is running out. How to use it until we are no more? Enjoy a good little dish, the scents of flowers, because at any time these pleasures can be taken away from you. So I find my happiness in making jewelry for men.»