Boise filmmaker Gregory Bayne says he likes to tell stories about remarkable people facing remarkable situations. On Thursday, May 17, the Egyptian Theatre will host an evening with Bayne and Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate in the United States to be exonerated by DNA evidence. It's no wonder Bayne wants to tell this story: Both the man and the situation are, in a word, remarkable.
Bloodsworth, an honorably discharged ex-Marine, was sentenced to death in 1985 for the rape and murder of a young girl. He was mistaken for a composite image created by two eyewitnesses, both small children.
"Long story short, they decided he was the guy based on eyewitness identification, but none of the kids actually identified him in a lineup," said Bayne. "Through very flimsy evidence, he was convicted. There was no physical evidence at all."
While imprisoned, Bloodsworth read a book about the use of DNA evidence to convict criminals. He knew that if such evidence could be used to prove guilt, it could also prove his innocence. There were only two DNA labs in the United States at the time, but Bloodsworth pushed to have the evidence from his case tested. His DNA did not match the evidence, and he was released in 1993.
Bayne, founder of the Lovely Machine film production company, has chronicled Bloodsworth's story in a feature-length documentary, Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man. Bayne is raising funds to finish the film, which will be partially animated. Bayne said that though progress has been steady, more support is needed to complete the animated portions of the film this summer.
The event at the Egyptian is free, though Bayne will be seeking donations to help fund his work. Bloodsworth will give a firsthand account of his story and the entire event will be filmed and included in the documentary.
"I just want to get people to come and hear his story and be part of the making of this film," said Bayne. "He's really compelling when he talks about it, especially in front of an audience."
Though Bayne doesn't consider himself a social-issues filmmaker, he was attracted to Bloodsworth's story because of its ability to universally resonate with an audience.
"It's a remarkable story in terms of the injustice. I know that people don't like to admit it, but when they look at things like this, they think, 'This can't happen to me.' Here's the evidence that this can happen to anybody."