NEW HAVEN, CT (CBSNewYork) – Today in Connecticut, a man will be sentenced for a rape and murder for which someone else was already imprisoned.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story
In 1986, Kenneth Ireland was just 16-years-old, when 30-year-old mother of four Barbara Pelkey was raped, and beaten to death.
He recalled watching from his bedroom the account of the horrific murder on TV.
“Just a point of interest. Wow, something tragic like this happened in our little small town?” he told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
But two years later, Ireland was charged with the murder of the woman from Wallingford, whom he didn’t even know.
There was no evidence to tie him to the crime, but Ireland was nevertheless convicted.
His lawyer, Bill Bloss, says DNA identified the real killer, but only after Kenneth had spent 22 years behind bars.
“The way they said goodbye to him was they took the handcuffs off him, and the judge said ‘You’re free to go.’ They did not give him a set of clothes. They did not give him a place to go. They did not give him $10 to take the bus home. It was literally, cuffs are off, have a nice life,” he said.
Bloss has filed an $8 million claim against the state of Connecticut for the wrongful imprisonment.
The real killer, former Bronx resident Kevin Benefield, was convicted in January of murder and felony murder, which both carry 25 to 60 years in prison. He is being sentenced Friday.
Ireland will not be in attendance.
“I had entertained the thought for a moment. But really, it’s not my case, and I have very little in what happens to this individual. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know the victim,” said Ireland.
He is now savoring his free life, trying not to look back at his 22 years in maximum security.
“The future is only as bright as you make it. So, I refuse to entertain any kind of bitterness or anger at this point. I’m going to live my life to the best I can and enjoy every minute of it,” he said.
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