Video by @martinschoeller / Kirk Bloodsworth spent eight years, 10 months, and 19 days in prison, two years on death row, for a crime he did not commit.
“I remember people in the courtroom calling me a child killer. That hurt the most, you know? I’d never hurt a child. But they branded me this, and it stuck too for a long, long time. Even 10 years after I got out people were still calling me a child killer. There are air vents in the prison, and I could hear the catcalls coming from the air vents. ‘Kirk ... Kirk … We’re gonna get you, Kirk. We're gonna do to you what you did to that little girl.’ Every day, every day, for the longest kind of time. And that was my life, all the time. And it continued even in the courtroom, you know. So when the gavel came down on my life after a two-week trial, the courtroom erupted in applause. ‘Give him the gas and kill his ass,’ they said. Both trials, same thing. They partied until four o'clock in the morning to my execution. I was scared to death, I'm not going to lie to you. Thank God for DNA though. Yeah. DNA, man. Saved my life.”
To learn more about Kirk or to help abolish the death penalty go to @witnesstoinnocence. Thank you @natgeo for featuring this story in your March issue. If you are in New York please check out my Death Row Exonerees video installation at Fotografiska New York. It will be up until March 28. For more stories and portraits, follow me @martinschoeller and @martinschoellerstudio.
Check out Nat Geo's link in bio for more on this story.