Louisville man proclaims innocence in prison interview

Published: Sep. 26, 2011 at 10:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2011 at 1:08 AM EDT
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Kerry Porter
Kerry Porter
The scene of Tyrone Camp's murder in 1996
The scene of Tyrone Camp's murder in 1996
Jerome Camp
Jerome Camp

WEST LIBERTY, KY (WAVE) - Almost every person convicted of a serious crime, goes down insisting they didn't do it. Kerry Porter was no different. He was convicted in 1998 of murder, but he's always said he's innocent.

Porter remembers seeing stories December 27, 1996 about Tyrone Camp's death.  Even then, he knew he was in trouble.

"When I saw it, that's when I said -- and this shocks everybody -- I knew that they were going to at least investigate me," Porter said. "A few days later, they were telling me I was a suspect and my name was mentioned in a murder investigation and I ain't worried about that. I didn't do no murder."

On the surface, Porter seemed to be a likely suspect. He was using drugs. Camp was involved with Porter's former girlfriend and raising Porter's son. He'd even had a run in with Camp years before.

"The purpose of me going in there was to bring out the ... all three of us were going to sit down and we were going to talk about this," he said of that confrontation. "I had a gun but I didn't pull it."

Even with all of that, when investigators came looking for him, Porter agreed to take a polygraph.

"It's my knowledge now that I passed it not once, but twice," he said.

He also agreed to do an interview with police.

"I didn't do anything so my philosophy and I was brought up that if you don't have nothing to hide, then you talk to them," Porter said. "It kind of came back to bite me on the behind but I went with my belief."

About a month later, police charged Porter with Camp's murder. Porter says when he went to trial prosecutors took his statement to police and twisted it.

They also used an eyewitness who identified Porter as the man he saw running away from Camp's body, but Camp's own twin brother now admits to accidentally influencing that witness, using a picture supplied by Camp's wife.

"The next day, she comes up with a picture of Kerry Porter and I showed it to my coworker," Jerome Camp said in an interview with WAVE 3. "He looked at the picture. The guy had a hooded jacket on and the picture she provided me was Kerry Porter with a hooded coat on and he says, 'Yeah, I think it's the guy. I'm almost positive that's the guy.'"

In later interviews with defense investigators, that same eyewitness says he believes he was mistaken, but at trial, he said Porter was the man he identified.

Porter says even so, he never thought he'd actually be convicted.

"You just know you're going to beat this, this nightmare is going to go away, the facts are going to come out at trial and when they don't come out at trial, you're here like me," he said.

For close to a decade, Porter sat serving his 60 year sentence in prison. The Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex is where he agreed to talk to WAVE 3 about his efforts to get his conviction overturned.

He showed us a letter he wrote in 1998, asking his attorney to investigate evidence he thought would point to the man he believes killed Camp.

"Find out more about this makeshift silencer -- test results," the letter said.

Camp's killer used a shotgun wrapped with carpet and duct tape in the murder. Porter said it was a key piece of evidence in his trial, but it was never tested for DNA.

"It should have and could have been tested," said Porter.

It finally was tested this past summer, after the Kentucky Innocence Project got involved.

Porter read the results he received September 14th. "Tyrone Camp and Kerry Porter can be excluded as possible contributors to this partial mixture," of DNA the lab report said.

Porter hopes those DNA test results will be just one of the things that helps overturn his conviction.

"DNA doesn't exactly totally exonerate you, but what DNA does is calls into question the validity of the conviction," he said. "At a minimum, we've got cause for a new trial, at a minimum."

He continues to maintain -- as he has from that very first day he heard about Camp's murder -- he's not the man who did it.

"Killers don't, they don't like the light because the light brings about the truth," Porter said. "It is best for killers to stay in the dark. The main reason for this interview is to let the public know, I'm not a killer. I am not a killer."

The Kentucky Innocence Project says Porter's case has all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction, including faulty eyewitness testimony and a jailhouse snitch.

They're now working with Louisville Metro Police to reinvestigate the case.

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