Men Accused of Satanic Murder Cleared After 26 Years

Kentucky men spent more than 20 years in prison
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2018 5:00 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2018 6:21 AM CST
This photo provided by the Kentucky Department of Corrections shows Garr Keith Hardin.   (AP Photo/Kentucky Department of Corrections)
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(Newser) – An Innocence Project lawyer says it's the worst miscarriage of justice she has ever seen—and it's one that kept two men behind bars for more than half their lives. Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark, who spent 24 years in prison in Kentucky after being accused of a satanic murder, had their convictions vacated after a brief hearing Monday in which a judge decided no credible evidence remained against them, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. Hardin, 48, and Clark, 47, were arrested in 1992 after the murder of Rhonda Warford, 19, who was stabbed to death and dumped in a field 50 miles from her home. She had spoken of being harassed by a strange man, but investigators focused on ex-boyfriend Hardin instead. The two men were convicted of her murder in 1995.

The men were released from prison in 2016 because of new forensic testing and evidence of police misconduct, the AP reports. Detective Mark Handy, who's accused of fabricating witness statements, is already being sued in connection with several other cases. Both Hardin and Clark have filed federal lawsuits. Innocence Project lawyer Seema Saifee says "unconscionable misconduct" by police resulted in prison for the men, who were accused of killing the teen as part of a satanic sacrifice. "They stole their youth, but they couldn't take away their dignity," Saifee says. "A lot of people ask me why I ain't so bitter," Clark tells WAVE 3. "I am bitter, but I ain't going to let it destroy the rest of my life." He says he wants to know who really killed Warford. "I want to see who actually did this crime," he says. "I want some closure and I want to know who took my life away from me."

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