In 1981, an 18-year-old Kirk L. Odom was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the rape and robbery of a Washington, D.C. woman in her Capital Hill apartment. According to the Washington Post, his conviction was based on “forensics and testimony by an elite unit of FBI hair experts.”
But in July 2012, nearly 10 years after being released from prison, Odom was exonerated following DNA testing that unveiled his innocence and proved that another man, a registered sex offender, was the true culprit of the horrific crime.
Now Odom, 52, is being awarded $9.2 million in damages after a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered the district to compensate him for spending nearly half his life in prison paying for a crime he did not commit. The ruling took place Friday, February 27.
From the Washington Post:
“The amount, set by Judge Neal E. Kravitz, is the second—and largest—award in a case tried before a District judge under the District’s wrongful conviction law, which was approved in 1980. It also is one of the largest non-jury awards in an exoneration case in the United States.”
Despite the numbers, Odom—who’s suffered depression, suicide attempts, family estrangement, and contracted HIV after being raped on multiple occasions while imprisoned—feels there’s no way any amount of money could ever compensate the struggles he’s undergone. “They can’t pay me enough money to give me back the years that I’ve lost,” he stated during an interview.
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s pray for this brother as he tries to restore a sense of normalcy with his wife of nearly 10 years in Southeast Washington, and build a relationship with his estranged daughter who was born just weeks before his original trial.