A man who spent 21 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit is seeking compensation for the years he spent in jail.
In 1989, Kenneth Ireland was convicted for killing Barbara Pelkey, a 30-year-old mother of four, in 1986.
He was imprisoned at age 18.
In 2007, the Connecticut Innocence Project began reviewing the case against Ireland. It wasn’t until 2009, when Ireland was 39 years old, that, proven innocent by DNA tests, a Superior Court dismissed all cases against him and he was released.
Now, Ireland is seeking between $5.4 million and $8 million in compensation for the years he wrongly spent in jail.
At a Connecticut hearing on Tuesday, he testified to determine how much he should be compensated. According to his lawyer, William Bloss, the hearing marks the first time a wrongful imprisonment claim is going to the state claims commissioner.
At the hearing, he spent nearly a half an hour describing the years he had spent behind bars and the daily terror of fights, stabbings, riots and corrections officers armed with BB guns.
In his claim, Ireland stated that he lost the opportunity to learn a trade, earn a living, get married and raise a family.
He added that because he was labeled a sex offender, he witnessed and experienced prison violence, losing part of one finger.
Attorney General George Jepsen has stated that he does not object to the compensation sought by Ireland.
In 2012, Kevin Benefield was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the beating death of Pelkey. Investigators who had been looking into Pelkey’s death took a sample of Benefield’s saliva in 1986, and submitted it to the state police crime lab in 2009.
Police said that testing linked Benefield’s saliva sample to the killing.