March 24th, 2012
On Friday, March 23, 2012 Kevin Benefield was sentenced to 60 years in prison, the maximum sentence that he could have received, for the 1986 rape and murder of Barbara Pelkey. Kenneth Ireland spent nearly 20 years in prison before the Connecticut Innocence Project helped to secure DNA testing on blood found at the crime scene proving Ireland’s innocence and leading authorities to the true perpetrator. Ireland has decided to skip the sentencing explaining that he had to work and also, “because it’s not my case anymore. It never was.” Since his release, Ireland has gotten his driver’s license, a car, a job and money for an apartment with the help of the Innocence Project, Connecticut Bar Association and Community Partners in Action. Ireland’s lawyer is hoping to secure additional compensation for Ireland under a 2008 compensation law benefiting the wrongfully convicted.
Originally posted 1/20/12
The story of New England exoneree Kenneth Ireland was back in the news yesterday when jurors convicted Kevin Benefield of the 1986 rape and murder of Barbara Pelkey, a crime that Ireland served 19 years in prison for before being cleared by DNA evidence. Pelkey was a 30-year-old mother of four when she was brutally raped and murdered while working the night shift at a factory in Wallingford, CT. The Connecticut Innocence Project took up Ireland’s case and with more advanced DNA testing methods was able to prove that the Ireland could not have been the perpetrator. The DNA results also led police to Kevin Benefield, who worked in the same building complex as Pelkey at the time of the crime. Karen Goodrow, the Director of the Connecticut Innocence Project was happy to hear the jury’s verdict saying, “It doesn’t negate from the pain for the victim’s family, or our client, but we’re satisfied that justice was done.”