Death row exoneree celebrates 10 years of freedom

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PHOENIX --The man who spent a decade in Arizona prisons and on death row for a murder he did not commit is back in the Valley to share his story.

Ray Krone's visit comes nearly 10 years to the day that a judge exonerated him of all charges.

In 1992, he was convicted in the murder of Kim Ancona, 36, at a Phoenix bar. An appeal got the conviction thrown out, but in 1996, another jury found him guilty -- again.

Krone always maintained he was home the night of the murder, but prosecutors were able to convince two juries that bite marks found on the victim matched Krone's teeth. He was dubbed the "Snaggle Tooth Killer."

In 2002, DNA evidence exonerated Krone. He walked out of jail on April 8 that year, and soon after moved back home to Pennsylvania.

"If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody," Krone said. "So, I've been able to go and tell that story to people, hopefully it can help just one person."

He is in the Valley to speak at a legal conference about wrongful convictions. Krone  arrived Wednesday, the same day Arizona carried out its third execution of the year. It's a subject about which Krone, now 51, feels strongly.

"I used to support the death penalty, but I didn't know about it," he said. "I've been there, I've lived there. I know people who were executed there."

He said he disagrees with the notion that an execution provides closure or a sense of revenge for victims and their families.

"A lot of people think the death penalty is the ultimate punishment," he said. "'Make 'em suffer.' Killing them is the best thing. I lived on death row and I was on death row for three years. I'll tell you what most of our opinions are: Kill me, do me a favor.

"With something as horrible as the death penalty is, you can't make mistakes with something like that, because you can't bring them back,. And history again has showed us that we have made mistakes," Krone continued.

Krone now works for the organization Witness to Innocence, which provides support to death-row exonerees and his family.

He will participate in a legal conference Friday at the Phoenix College of Law, called "Exonerated, Not Executed." The program is sponsored by the Arizona Justice Department.