Maryland prosecutors used the same DNA evidence that freed Kirk Bloodsworth (pictured) from Maryland’s death row to secure a life-in-prison sentence for Kimberly Shay Ruffner, the man who has now confessed to the 1984 murder of Dawn Hamilton. Bloodsworth spent years on death row for the rape and murder of Hamilton before DNA evidence conclusively showed that he could not have committed the crime. In 1993, he became the first death row inmate in the country to be freed on the basis of DNA testing. Despite the fact that Ruffner was a known sexual offender with an interest in young girls who lived near the scene of the Hamilton murder, police failed to link him to the crime and instead focused on Bloodsworth. It was not until a decade after Bloodsworth’s release, in August 2003, that prosecutors tested the DNA from the crime scene against samples taken from offenders within their system. They discovered that it matched Ruffner, who was in prison serving a 45-year sentence for a similar attack that occurred just three weeks after Bloodsworth’s arrest for the Hamilton murder. Following the discovery of this match, prosecutors apologized to Bloodsworth for wrongly convicting him of the crime and for not disputing claims that he was guilty of the crime despite his exoneration from death row. Prosecutors formally charged Ruffner shortly after the DNA match came to light and in late May 2004 successfully won a life sentence conviction, which Ruffner will begin to serve after his current sentence is completed. (The Baltimore Sun, May 22, 2004) See Innocence.