My short bio: My name is Ray Krone. I'm the Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence. Before my exoneration in 2002, I spent more than 10 years in Arizona prisons, including nearly three years on death row, for a murder I did not commit. My world was turned upside down in 1991, when Kim Ancona was murdered in a Phoenix bar where I was an occasional customer, and I was arrested for the crime. The case against me was based largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a supposedly “expert” witness, later discredited, who claimed bite marks found on the victim matched my teeth. I was sentenced to death in 1992. But I refused to give up my fight for exoneration. In 2002, with the help of attorney Alan Simpson, he convinced an appeals court that DNA found at the murder scene indicated the guilt of another man, Kenneth Phillips. When prosecutors dropped the charges that April, I became the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973. I now live with my partner Cheryl Naill in Tennessee, and have devoted my life to improving the criminal justice system that failed me. I would not trust the state to execute a person for committing a crime against another person. I know how the system works. It’s not about justice or fairness or equality. Any chance I can, whether I start with one or two people or a whole auditorium filled with people, I’ll tell them what happened to me. Because if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.

Side Note: I want to let you all know that I'm here doing this AMA to tell you about a project I strongly believe in called Final Words. It's a book project on Indiegogo that features the final statements from the 517 executed prisoners on Texas Death Row. I think it brings a much needed humanity to the debate on the death penalty. I can tell you from first hand experience that they really are humans on death row. Check out the project at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/final-words--2/x/7633482

My Proof: http://raykrone.imgur.com/all/ http://www.witnesstoinnocence.org/exonerees/ray-krone.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXwYi_338jk

Comments: 801 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

raykrone333 karma

Just want to let you all know that I'm here doing this AMA to tell you about a project I strongly believe in called Final Words. It's a book project on Indiegogo that features the final statements from the 517 executed prisoners on Texas Death Row. I think it brings a much needed humanity to the debate on the death penalty. I can tell you from first hand experience that they really are humans on death row. Check out the project at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/final-words--2/x/7633482

jstrydor299 karma

This is like my worst fear. It's something about the powerlessness of it all and knowing that you're innocent. I guess my question would be, can you describe how you felt, the moment that the "expert" witness actually said out loud that the bite marks matched? I feel like that would be the point for me that would just push me over the edge.

raykrone289 karma

You're absolutely right. The horrors of being thrown into another world, another universe that is no longer understandable. The helplessness overwhelms you with nowhere to turn. The system exerts its full force on you.

mostly_sarcastic180 karma

I'm assuming there was a settlement with the state? What are some luxury items you've bought?

raykrone796 karma

There wasn't a settlement. They didn't give me anything. I had to sue them and take it from them. I bought a nice farm to have my peace and quite and bought a Harley Davidson. And I went on a cruise!

Scottler146 karma

What was the first thing you did upon release? What was the first thing you ate? Did your views on capital punishment change at all throughout this ordeal?

raykrone332 karma

First thing I did was a press conference. They were waiting right outside the gate because I was the 100th person exonerated. The very first thing I ate was a frozen burrito from a convenience store down the road from the prison. I couldn't even work the microwave to heat it up. My views on capital punishment absolutely changed. I used to believe that they got it right, but I found out that they get it wrong and they make deals with the worst of the worst. There are actually people on death row that didn't kill anybody but are there simply because they were with someone who killed somebody. As they say on death row, "First one to squeal gets the deal."

raykrone117 karma

I would like to thank everyone for their thoughtful and intriguing questions. I appreciate your compassion and interest in this issue. I pray that no one else has to go through it themselves. Change comes about through people's involvement and if you believe in something, you can make a difference. If we unite and fight for that change letting our legislatures know, it will happen.

And again, please check out and support Final Words. It's a vital perspective on the death penalty that is often overlooked. We have to remember that these are human beings, first and foremost. Order your book today and help spread the word:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/final-words--2/x/7633482

Thanks!

adub887116 karma

What were 5 things you looked forward to most when you knew you were getting released?

raykrone290 karma

  1. Being able to hug my mom and my sister.
  2. Good food
  3. Being able to walk barefoot in the grass.
  4. Riding a motorcycle.
  5. Driving a car.

underdabridge113 karma

Who were the scariest and most horrible prisoners you met on death row?

raykrone684 karma

The ones with badges.

WhosPancakeIsThis78 karma

Edit: Someone else said my question before me, so Ill change it.

How did they manage to "match your teeth" to the marks on the body? Seems like a load of bull to me.

raykrone175 karma

It was. It was magic and it was a person's opinion who was paid over $50k by the prosecutor. There has been more than a dozen experts who have since looked at it and have all said it was not a match.

DarwinWinner78 karma

What was day to day life like on death row? Which movie or tv show is more accurate?

raykrone185 karma

We were kept in total isolation. We only got out of our cells 3 times a week for a total of six hours. As far as shows on television, the only one I've seen that was even close to representing prison life was the HBO series Oz.

two_off76 karma

If the system is not about justice or fairness or equality, what is it about?

raykrone293 karma

Winning.

blushinggoose74 karma

Do you still harbor a great deal of resentment? Or have you forgiven the individuals that wronged you? Obviously the system has some flaws, so this question is more directed to you at a personal level.

raykrone259 karma

I learned that you give forgiveness for yourself so that you can move on and live your life. They have to live with what they did. I don't.

king_olaf_the_hairy69 karma

Three questions about the expert witness:

Have you ever spoken to or communicated with them since you were released? As in, "Hey, I almost died because of your incompetence."

Do you know if they maintain they were correct despite the successful appeal, or have they admitted their error?

You say they were discredited. Do you mean in this specific case, or more generally as a prosecution witness (or in their career)?

raykrone133 karma

No, I never spoke with the expert witness since my release. They actually told my attorney that they never said I killed her, but that I bit her. So he maintains that he was correct. They were discredited both in my case. Three experts testified against his testimony in my trial. And forensic science has since come out and said that a bite mark can only eliminate suspects in a case. It can no longer be the reason for conviction.

Flash_Our_Savior66 karma

How were you treated by other prisoners in jail? If/when you told them you were innocent did they believe you? What were the reactions like?

raykrone142 karma

Most people don't walk around talking about their case. The few that I did feel confident enough to talk to about it also had issues of innocence in their cases. I got along okay with other inmates. Prisons are very violent places and gang controlled which makes it difficult to stay out of trouble.

TeslaBoyGangsta62 karma

What food were you craving the most while you were imprisoned?

raykrone109 karma

Anything with seasoning. It was very bland in prison so anything with red meat would have been great.

adub88748 karma

Do you feel your case is a unique instance? Or do you feel the justice system needs to be amended?

raykrone129 karma

My case was one of the many. There have been 146 people exonerated from death row in the last 30 years. There a lot of things that need to be fixed in the justice system. A major one is the prosecutors and police need to be held accountable for their misconduct. Currently, they aren't held accountable for perjury, withholding evidence, destroying evidence, etc.

missionbeach44 karma

Congratulations, even though it happened some time ago. How close were you to ever having your name at the top of the list? I know some states have death row, but in reality they rarely or never execute someone.

raykrone100 karma

I never came that close. My very first appeal to Arizona Supreme Court overturned my death sentence.

jh133637 karma

Did you recover any damages or compensation for the time you spent unfairly in prison?

raykrone73 karma

As a result of prosecution withholding evidence I was able to sue the county for civil rights violations.

PennyHammer36 karma

What was your experience with the court system like? How did the attorneys and judges treat you? Did you feel as though they treated you like you were guilty before the verdict came down? How was the appellate process different?

raykrone80 karma

I was treated like I was guilty. My court appointed attorney was only paid $5k to defend me so he didn't really care. The judge sentenced me to death because I didn't show any remorse. I didn't have anything to be remorseful for. During the appellate process, you don't have any contact with anyone involved in that. Neither your attorneys nor the courts.

captainajax36 karma

Hi Mr. Krone. Thanks so much for doing this. My question is about jailhouse snitches. Did the government rely on any jailhouse snitch testimony in your case? If not, did you see other inmates read papers or watch the news to get information to give to the police? I'm currently writing a paper on wrongful convictions and would to hear your responses.

raykrone60 karma

No, there were no jailhouse snitches in my case. There are absolutely jailhouse snitches and they very rarely are telling the truth. They are just making a deal.

iSpoonz34 karma

How did you live day to day knowing you were innocent? In other words, how did you cope with the knowledge that you did not belong there?

raykrone76 karma

I found strength through the support of other people who believed in me and I wasn't going to let the team down. I had to survive in order to stay alive for when that day finally came. To do that you flatline your emotions. You don't get too excited about good news or too upset about bad news. Because one or the other always seem to be around the corner.

lady-patra33 karma

What were your first thoughts upon being sentenced to death?

raykrone91 karma

I thought you might as well kill me. You've already took everything I ever believe in or stood for anyhow. But I can honestly say I never thought I was going to be executed the entire time.

agoraway31 karma

Did you befriend anyone in jail that you still maintain contact with? Anyone you thought was innocent who you're helping now?

raykrone57 karma

There was one that I helped shortly after my release. He is now off of death row, but he's serving a life sentence now. Not necessarily because of me, but somebody I did believe in. I did have acquaintance in prison, but I don't really consider them friends. We were all forced to be there so we tried to get along.

Stealthspawn31 karma

How scared were you to know you almost cane that close to death & could do anything about it? (Before you found out of course) & what was it like in prison did the inmates treat you differently knowing your were on deathrow?

raykrone71 karma

In order to survive you can't be afraid of dying. You have to accept that fact. Dying isn't hard, it's living in those conditions that will kill you. Having been on death row, knowing the conditions, other inmates had respect for us.

I_Want_To_Kill_You30 karma

[deleted]

raykrone75 karma

I wasn't forced to join a gang. You can survive prison without joining a gang. But you have to stick with your race. And follow their rules, the gang rules.

kyliekarnage27 karma

[deleted]

raykrone36 karma

No. It's not difficult for that to happen to prisoners, but I was able to walk through the minefields quite carefully.

JaiOhBe25 karma

While serving time, could you tell when people were lying or telling the truth when they would tell you they are innocent?

raykrone50 karma

No. I do know what I personally went through. I was offered a plea bargain and told them where to put it. I know several others that did the same. That was usually the common denominator of innocent people. They turned down plea bargains. And also, the ones that had a verifiable alibi that the police dismissed and ignored.

foobadoop24 karma

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for what you endured and am inspired by you taking a terrible situation to affect positive change in our society! I do wonder, though, are there ANY circumstances under which you feel the death penalty is warranted? (serial killers, child rapist/murderers, etc.) I'm very curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your time.

raykrone86 karma

I've come to the conclusion that the answer is no. There is no excuse for killing people in attempting to teach them that killing is wrong. But most importantly, we've proven that the system does not get it right. So we can't have a punishment that is irrevocable.

josephtutora24 karma

Did you ever think you would be exonerated? And how did it happen?

raykrone175 karma

I prayed to God I would and it was all because of DNA. And God makes DNA!

EstelleFrench22 karma

What can we do to help the Final Words project?

raykrone26 karma

Pass the word along to friends and family members. Order a copy on the Indiegogo page for yourself and your local school or library. Help spread the word about this important project and perspective on the death penalty. Remembering that these are human beings is the most important thing. They are not the same people who committed these horrible acts.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/final-words--2/x/7633482

concreteprincess22 karma

You obviously hold a lot of passion for the work you're doing now, which is completely understandable and respectable.

Do you hold any bitterness or hatred toward those who made the system seemingly work against you for so long? Is there a person, such as the expert witness, who you hold accountable? How do you feel about this witness now?

raykrone50 karma

I don't have time in my life to look back at what is lost. I don't choose to let them have power over my well-being and emotions. I sleep well at night. I wonder how they do.

Seshiro8620 karma

What's one historical event, that you missed by being imprisoned, that you wish you could of experienced with friends and family?

raykrone66 karma

Three events. Two non-historical. 9/11 occurred while I was in prison. My grandpa died. And my niece was born.

BlueMonk016 karma

How do you hope to reform the judicial system in america and what as individuals can we do to help?

Bonus question, how do you think prisons should be handled, both in their primary purpose and in their function(what should they be focused on doing for/with the prisoners and how should they do that on a day to day basis)?

raykrone70 karma

We need more training for our officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors. We need immunity to be removed from prosecutors who commit misconduct. We need to quit sentencing non-violent offenders to long prison terms. And we need truly unbiased jurors that have open minds and realize that sometimes prosecutors lie.

Unfortunately our prisoners have been a continuation of the assigned punishment. We remove them from contact with society. We give them no job training skills for re-entry. And we lock up way too many people with mental health and substance abuse problems, rather than treating the problems.

fuck_the_haters_8 karma

Is 100 your favorite number now?

raykrone35 karma

Haha! When it comes to dollars!

Wynner38 karma

Do you have a job and was it difficult getting back to work? Did you get to read any books while in prison? If so, can you recommend any? Do you get any dirty looks or comments from people if they know who you are or that you've been to prison?

raykrone20 karma

Yes, I have a job. Fortunately I had family and friends that looked out for me. I read quite a lot of books while in prison. But they were limited to the older classics. I like Robert Ludlow for adventure and spy thrillers and Dean Koons for horror. I wasn't aware of any dirty looks or comments. Most people were genuine about the fact that not only was I released, but that they got the person who actually committed the crime.

TheBrand19XX4 karma

Hello Mr. Krone. What was the first thing you did when you got out?

raykrone9 karma

Gave a press conference to the waiting crowd.

Eternally653 karma

Hello, Mr. Krone! I'm getting a message from your imgur proof that "raykrone's images are not publicly available." Is there another place to see this?

raykrone5 karma

Eternally653 karma

Nope. Still getting the "raykrone's images are not publicly available. " tag. Is anyone else able to see the imgur proof here? Or is it just me?

raykrone5 karma

SuaveMF-5 karma

I'm a family law and criminal attorney: A few questions please: (1) Didchoo make any friends on the inside? (2) Were you ever sodomized during your stint in lockup? (3) Didchoo become religious while on death row? (4) What do you think of the Moody Blues? (5) What was the prosecutor's case in chief? Did they try to establish a motive? (6) Didchoo have a prior record at the time Kim was murdered? (7) Do we know why Kenneth allegedly killed her? (8) Do you feel all appointed attorneys don't do a good job because of the pay involved? (9) Were you surprised about the outside world's changes once you got out after serving so much time on the inside or were you kept in the loop about what was going on? (10) Do you think the Mafia exists? (11) Bonus Question: Do you have a good recipe for homemade chicken soup? - Thanks!

raykrone12 karma

  1. Acquaintances. Not friends.
  2. No and it's not as common as people think.
  3. I had faith in God before I went to death row.
  4. I thought they were okay. I listened to them on the radio. I prefer Southern Rock.
  5. They said I helped her closed the bar and she refused me sex. They said I forced myself on her and had to kill her to keep her silent. The bite mark was supposedly proof of my crime. I was also acquitted of sexual assault.
  6. No, I was working for the Post Office. Didn't even have driving tickets.
  7. An argument over using the bathroom and he was in a drunken state. He claimed he had a blackout.
  8. No, I think there are very good attorneys that don't necessarily do it for the money. But they are overworked, underpaid and under appreciated.
  9. Technology had passed me by. In ten years, a lot had changed.
  10. I believe there is such a thing as organized crime. Call it what you want.
  11. Absolutely! I'm from the German area of Pennsylvania!