Kenneth Ireland's hearing began Tuesday morning in Hartford. (WFSB photo)
Kenneth Ireland seeks up to $8 million for being wrongfully imprisoned. (WFSB file photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
After being wrongfully incarcerated for 21 years following the rape and murder of a woman, a Connecticut man is making his case for damages.
Kenneth Ireland is seeking $8 million. He was scheduled to testify on Tuesday in a special evidentiary hearing in front of the state's claims commissioner.
"It's a difficult story to tell. It's a difficult story to relive but it's necessary," Ireland said, adding that he harbors no ill will against his accusers. "I plan to take advantage of my future."
Eyewitness News spoke to Ireland before the hearing. He did not appear to be bitter, but he said he wanted the state to pay for him to make the rest of his life easier.
"I'm just looking forward to living each day to its fullest," he said. "Investigator Palmer looked at me dead in the eyes and he said 'Ken, you're getting out on Wednesday.' I still refused to believe it."
Ireland's case was the first of its kind and could be precedent setting, according to officials.
He was convicted of raping and murdering Barbara Pelky in 1986. The conviction was overturned after DNA tests revealed that another man was responsible.
"I didn't have remorse for this crime because I didn't commit this crime," Ireland said, adding that he did not know Pelky. "I was convinced I would die in prison."
Ireland's mother was to also testify.
There was no clear timetable for when the claims commissioner will make the decision. The State Attorney's Office declined comment on the case.
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