Kentucky Men Await Court Ruling on Motion to Overturn 20-Year Murder Convictions
Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark were convicted 20 years ago in Kentucky of stabbing to death a 19-year-old woman in 1992 and dumping her body in a field locally referred to as Dead Horse Hollow. Both men were sentenced to life in prison, but new DNA testing may indicate that Hardin and Clark have spent nearly two decades in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
The two men were convicted in 1995 of killing Rhonda Warford of Meade County, Kentucky, as part of a violent Satanic ritual. The prosecution argued that one of Hardin’s hairs was found on the victim’s body, placing him at the crime scene. They also said that a cloth and cup found at Hardin’s home were covered in blood from animal sacrifices, confirming the men’s involvement in Satanic practices. At trial, damning testimony came from a Louisville detective—now under investigation for allegedly fabricating evidence—who said that Hardin told him that he’d grown tired of sacrificing animals and had moved on to killing people.
An article in Sunday’s
says that the Innocence Project and the Kentucky Innocence Project recently filed a motion stating that DNA testing discredits that evidence and requests that the convictions of Hardin and Clark be vacated. The motion supports Hardin’s long-held assertion, that the cup and cloth were bloody because he cut his hand on the broken cup and used the cloth to wipe the wound. DNA testing of the cloth and cup confirms that the blood belongs to Hardin, not to animals. Also, DNA testing shows that the hair found on the victim—the only piece of physical evidence linking Hardin and Clark to the crime scene—belongs to neither of the men.
According to the
, Meade Commonwealth Attorney David Williams has already said that he will oppose overturning the convictions despite the DNA results. In fact, Williams’ office and the office of the commonwealth’s attorney general had fought hard against Hardin and Clark even being granted DNA testing. But in 2013, Kentucky’s Supreme Court said that the men should have access to testing given that it wasn’t available at the time of their trials. The court also wrote that it was “mystified, if not amazed, [that] the commonwealth has such little interest in the possibility that DNA testing might lead to the prosecution and conviction of a guilty person heretofore uncharged and now at large,” according to the
Innocence Project Attorney Seema Saifee and Kentucky Innocence Project Supervising Attorney Linda Smith say that they hope that Williams will join in a search for the actual killer, reports the
. At this point, there are several suspects who have been identified.
Saifee, who is representing Hardin, told the
: “The right thing to do is for the prosecutor to recognize that he [Hardin] was wrongly convicted. . . . The science proves he didn’t commit this crime.”
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