“Ripple Effect” of Wrongful Conviction Highlighted by Judge

“…For 21 years, you woke up and went to sleep knowing that an innocent man, Kenneth Ireland, was sitting in prison,” said Connecticut Superior Court Judge David P. Gold in sentencing Kevin Benefield to the maximum 60 years in prison for the 1986 rape/murder of Barbara Pelkey.

Judge Gold referenced, as reported in a New Haven Register article here, the “ripple effect” of the crime that robbed Pelkey’s four children of their mother, financial and emotional security, and their father, who committed suicide in the wake of the brutal crime. All four of the Pelkey children, now adults with their own families, attended the sentencing on March 23, 2012.

The wrongful conviction in this case expanded the crime’s ripple effect. Convicted on questionable forensic evidence and testimony of a witness who collected a $15,000 reward, Ireland, 42, was incarcerated at 18 years old and is now seeking $8 million from the state in compensation for his 21 years of wrongful imprisonment.

In the more than twenty years that Benefield escaped justice, he was convicted of a rash of other crimes including assault, burglary, car thefts, etc.

Thank you, Connecticut Innocence Project, for seeking the DNA testing that exonerated Ireland and implicated Benefield.

This story demonstrates—as all wrongful convictions do—why we must seek to institute every best practice in criminal justice to improve the opportunity to get verdicts right the first time.

9 responses to ““Ripple Effect” of Wrongful Conviction Highlighted by Judge

  1. Get verdicts right the first time…..you mean instead of have CORRUPTION AND COVER UP going on??????????????????????????????????????
    Eventually enough innocent people in prison are going to be found to be not guilty of the crimes that they have been convicted of….and compensation is going to get really high….that perhaps the prosecutors will have NO CHOICE…but to get the verdicts right the first time….which is the way it should be all of the time…

  2. I would like to hear more about how prosecutors built the case against this innocent man and why none of the blame is directed at them. It sounds like they had zero evidence. This will continue as long as they’re able to get away with it. I didn’t hear any harsh words from the judge directed at the prosecutors.

    • You are absolutely correct, you hit the nail on the head! THis is what I’ve been trying to point out, we need prosecutorial accountability, or this will keep happening. If the prosecutors know they will face consequences for going after an innocent person just to secure a conviction, they may think twice if it’s his/her own freedom and liberty at risk!

    • Also, you said you wanted to hear how prosecutors built the case against him. This is something that doesn’t make much sense bc so many innocent people are incarcerated without any forensic or real evidence in the first place, so how are these prosecutors doing it? Are they forging evidence or do jury members just put so much faith in our legal system that they believe there wouldn’t be an indictment if the person wasn’t guilty? Prosecutors are being believed and trusted when they shouldn’t be, our system is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not the opposite!

  3. Katie – in the case that I spend my time on, the Brad Cooper case – prosecutors misled the jurors about so many things. For example, in closing they stated 7 times “and we never found the missing shoes BC was wearing that morning”. In reality, they never asked him for the shoes and they never looked for them at all until several months later. There is testimony from the detective that he never asked him for the shoes and Brad was fully cooperating with police early on, answering all kinds of questions. That is one of many examples. I’m in the process of highlighting this so others can see it. I have all of the trial video.

  4. Prosecutors and all the others that are in authority positions do not want to be second guessed. They believe it undermines their authority. What they don’t realize is, they undermine their own authority when they don’t second guess themselves . We don’t want “justice” quick and concise. We want justice done right.

  5. ramone mcclellan

    Not that I am excusing any aspect of this horrendous act, However there is evidence that there was some type of sexual acts being carried out by Ms. Pelkey at her job with other men and those men are all deceased except for the man whom was initially convicted. My issue is if this man had absolutely nothing to do with Mrs. Pelkey then how was he even considered to be a person of interest? I understand that there was unexplainable sexual contact between Mr. Benefield and Mrs. Pelkey but if you consider that Mr. Benefield had a girlfriend at the time and he had just been having intercourse with another woman and that woman has been found dead… How would you respond? You may not have been as forthcoming in the same situation especially if you are an African American male that has just had a affair with a “white” married woman with 4 children that has been found brutally murdered… Then I asked myself well what about the husband he commited suicide, to me I say why would he do such a thing with four children, is it possible that he found out about his wife having an affair and decided to go to the extreme and kill his wife because the description of how Mrs. Pelkey was murdered sounded like a crime of passion and any person that has just murdered somebody in the way that Mrs. Pelkey was murdered should bear some scars from the incident because I’m sure she had to fight back before she met her full demise. And there was no male DNA found on the mallet that killed Mrs. Pelkey… There is still to much mystery and misery behind this crime… We need more details…

  6. Pingback: Wrongful Convictions « maleoutrage.com

  7. I am a professed problem solver, I have a very advanced degree and 35 years of work experience in 20+ fields including foreign service of work. Judge Gold is a Dueche Canoe. I have observed him on numerous occasions and he is an egotistical freak of nature. He is Bias and Trades cases in his chambers on a daily basis. He traded this case with lawyers and the PA – Barbara Hoffman. These people are a club and a click, they find fun in screwing with people, and since no police office has an IQ higher than 80, this all makes sense. They are lacking justice in every thought and play games with all that walk in-front of them. Judge Carroll, and the rest of the dark lords are a complete and utter farce. There is no Justice in CT and there never will be. The PA is usually a freak as well Brenda Hans and Barbra Hoffman and Kennedy in MDLTWN are less than any prosecute I have ever seen on TV.

    This has nothing to do with wrongful convictions, it has everything to do with a broken system with stupid people running it and managing it. The rest of the 49 states laugh at the state of Connecticut and its Criminal and Family Court System – CT spends 2 Billion a year on our court system and have complete corrupt idiots running it. Judges are a political position by and for the governor. This is a broken flawed system in need of a complete and utter overhaul.

    I have been a court watcher for the past two years – daily, there are thousands of constituents that don’t belong in the system, but because there is a jail for profit system, corruption and judicial misconduct … we will keep doing the wrong thing. David Gold is a Dirt bag

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