Ray Krone

Last Friday, a Phoenix School of Law lecture hall was the site for a panel presentation including Ray Krone, famously convicted twice and delivered to death row for murder—until DNA testing proved his innocence.

If there is one thing the panel illustrated, though, it’s that the previous sentence is a huge understatement. Ultimately, DNA freed Krone. But an amazing amount of commitment and shoe leather went into his exoneration.

The event came almost exactly 10 years after Krone’s exneration, he and others told the tale of missteps and worse that led to his plight.

Featured at the Arizona Justice Project event were: 

  • Ray Krone: death-row exonoree and spokesman for Witness to Innocence
  • Chris Plourd: Krone’s defense attorney in second trial (now a California state court judge)
  • Alan Simpson: Krone’s attorney in post-conviction and civil suit against the state
  • Bill Culbertson: Former deputy county attorney
  • Don “Joe” Hedgecock: Juror in first trial in 1992
  • Kelcey Reed: DNA analyst with Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab
  • Kim Kobojek: DNA analyst with Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab
  • Steve Junkin: Witness at Krone’s trial; colleague from U.S. Air Force

Moderated by former Channel 12 news reporter Rich Robertson, the panel walked viewers through the investigation and trials.

L to R: Bill Culbertson, Kelcey Reed, Kim Kobojek, Christopher Plourd, Alan Simpson

Krone displayed his reputation for remaining upbeat (as well as quite a bit of charm) when he offered listeners his greatly abbreviated bio: “I’m Ray Krone, and I didn’t do it.”

That is a statement from which Krone never wavered, said Chris Plourd. In fact, when Plourd first visited his new client on death row, a prison guard told the lawyer, “I hope you can help this guy. He doesn’t seem to belong here.”

Plourd added, “It was hard for Ray to breathe prison air when he knew the killer was breathing his free air.”

Former prosecutor Bill Culbertson finally said that he participated in the panel for two reasons: “to honor a man who has the courage not to be angry, and to try to ensure this never happens again.”

An excellent goal, and yet not three days later we see news out of Colorado that a man imprisoned for 16 years for a murder has been exonerated by DNA. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

Here is another story on Ray Krone and the panel at Phoenix School of Law. More photos are available on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.