Ronnie Rhodes has spent 30 years in a Kansas prison for a murder he says he didn't commit. His case remained forgotten until last year, when it caught the attention of students in a class at Washburn law school studying wrongful convictions.
To them, Rhodes' conviction illustrates many of the problems found in hundreds of cases where inmates were later proven innocent through DNA ambiguous eyewitness testimony, ineffective defense and questionable evidence.
The U.S. criminal justice system is built on a code of "better that 10 guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer."
Now, it seems, 266 innocent people aren't enough to prompt many states, including Kansas, to enact reforms that could limit the possibility of putting the wrong people behind bars.
On his second day as Dallas County District Attorney, Craig Watkins received a motion needing his signature.
It was to destroy old evidence.
"I didn't sign it," Watkins said.
Ronnie Rhodes wondered why he couldn't seek legal relief if evidence in his 30-year-old murder case was destroyed without a court order.
Currently, 33 states require evidence in the most serious crimes to be maintained at least as long as a convicted person remains in prison.
Kansas is not one of them.
PART ONE: After decades, case spurs questions
PART TWO: Rhodes tells what he did Feb. 2, 1981
PART THREE: The case under scrutiny
PART FOUR: He would never have lied