Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) -- The Connecticut House of Representatives will debate abolishing the death penalty Wednesday; 43-year-old Kenneth Ireland and stories like his are the biggest reasons that Connecticut's Death Penalty Statute is on the verge of being abolished.
Ireland served 21 years behind bars for the murder and rape of a young mother in Wallingford in 1986. He was released from a 50 year prison sentence in 2009 when DNA evidence concluded he could not have committed the crime.
He was 16 when the crime was committed and his youthful age is probably the only reason he did not end up on death row.
"That's my thought, I mean, I don't know for sure, but they could have charged me any way they wanted to I guess," Ireland said, "but, yeah...I'm pretty sure that they could have charged me felony murder and first-degree sexual assault."
"As an adult," asked News 8's Mark Davis.
"Absolutely as an adult," Ireland replied. "I could absolutely been charged as an adult with a capitol felony crime and I could have been sitting on death row."
"So, Ken, is that why you're sort of coming out and publicly opposing the death penalty," Davis questioned.
"That's not the reason I'm coming out, that's a small factor," Ireland said. "The reason I'm coming out is I truly believe in my heart that capitol punishment is antiquated. It's an old system that I don't believe it does us, as a nation, any good."
However, Ireland's release from prison in 2009 was one of a string of big mistakes made by the Criminal Justice System.
Earlier that same year, Miguel Roman was released when DNA evidence concluded he could not have committed the murder for which he had served 20 years in prison.
And in 2006, James Tillman was cleared of rape charges after spending 18 years in prison.
"I think we can do better as a nation, there's no easy answers, obviously, I mean, they're horrific crimes, they're just terrible, horrific crimes and that has to be something," said Ireland, "but I don't believe taking another life is the answer."
Ireland's case and these others have all been cited by lawmakers who have recently changed their mind about Connecticut's death penalty.
The vote in the House will likely come sometime Wednesday night. Repeal is expected to be approved and it will go to Governor Malloy who has pledged to sign it.
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