Bloodsworth due $300,000

June 02, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

The Maryland Board of Public Works has agreed on a $300,000 payment to Kirk N. Bloodsworth, who was pardoned in December after spending nine years in prison when new evidence cast serious doubt on his guilt in the murder of a 9-year-old Rosedale girl.

But the panel delayed a vote on the settlement yesterday, hoping to persuade Baltimore County, which prosecuted Mr. Bloodsworth, to provide as much as $50,000 toward the total.

The board, composed of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Treasurer Lucille Maurer and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, postponed action on the settlement for "wrongful imprisonment" until June 22 to give Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who is recuperating from brain surgery, a chance to decide whether the county will contribute.

The county has refused, according to Stanley J. Schapiro, county attorney. He said the county did nothing wrong in its prosecution of Mr. Bloodsworth in the rape and murder of Dawn Hamilton on July 25, 1984.

"No claim has been made against the county," Mr. Schapiro said. "If we made a payment we would be saying that we contributed to this man's unfortunate situation, but we didn't."

Mr. Goldstein said that he "absolutely" believes the county should contribute. "I'm an optimist," he said, referring to his hope that Mr. Hayden will go along.

Although Mr. Bloodsworth was tried and imprisoned by the state of Maryland, Baltimore County police investigated the rape-murder, and the prosecution was directed by State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor.

The convictions were based largely on witnesses who put Mr. Bloodsworth near the scene of the murder, although he said that the witnesses were mistaken.

The microscopic DNA evidence that freed Mr. Bloodsworth one year ago wasn't available in 1984, when Mr. Bloodsworth was first convicted and sentenced to death, or in 1986, when a new trial and conviction resulted in a life sentence.

Tests conducted last year by an independent lab -- and confirmed by the FBI -- found microscopic traces of semen on the victim's panties that could not have come from Mr. Bloodsworth. After those tests, prosecutors dismissed the charges against him, and he was freed.

Governor Schaefer pardoned Mr. Bloodsworth in December 1993 after examining the evidence and consulting with Baltimore County prosecutors.

Although prosecutors said they would not have charged Mr. Bloodsworth based on the new test evidence, they have declined to say that they believe he is innocent.

Robert E. Morin, Mr. Bloodsworth's Washington attorney, said yesterday that he has been negotiating with state officials and hopes for a final vote on the settlement soon because Mr. Bloodsworth is "having financial difficulties" and was unemployed for much of the winter.

The waterman returned to Cambridge after he was freed and worked in his father's seafood delivery business, but that is seasonal employment, Mr. Morin said.

Mr. Bloodsworth, 33, said yesterday that he worked trapping muskrat this winter but made very little money.

"I just worked to eat," he said. He recently got a job at a Cambridge funeral home, he said, and is hoping to use some of the money from the settlement to pay for community college tuition to earn a degree in mortuary science.

He said he also wants to repay his father, Curtis Bloodsworth, for the money he spent for legal defense over the years.

"He used all his savings and retirement -- it's all gone," the younger Mr. Bloodsworth said, adding that his 65-year-old father is ill with high blood pressure and a skin disease and may have to re-mortgage his house.

Mr. Bloodsworth said he is engaged to be married but can't set a date because of his uncertain financial situation. While another month's wait for the money will be frustrating, he said, he's grateful that the whole episode may be coming to an end.

"I believe I'm entitled to every single penny and my father is, too," he said. "I just want to be a businessman and a regular citizen. I want to get on with my life and enjoy it."

Mr. Morin will not receive any part of a state payment, he said.

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