"After ten years 3 months and 8 days to start my life over again at 45," Ray Krone told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Krone is the poster child of a death row inmate, who hadn't committed the crime for which he was convicted.
"It took the jury just three hours to find me guilty," Krone testified. "I supported the death penalty. I believed in it. Deterrent effect for the worst of the worst. I found out I was wrong. Almost dead wrong at the age of 35."
Krone was convicted on charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of an Arizona bar maid. After a decade behind bars, facing a death sentence, Krone fought for and won his release.
"Innocent people can be sentenced to death and that's on all of our heads," Krone said.
Krone's exoneration marked the 100th instance of an innocent person being convicted and sentenced to death in the United States. DNA evidence eventually revealed his innocence. Since his release, 42 others facing death row have been exonerated and released.
But some witnesses on Wednesday were like Donald Schmidt, Sr.
"He executed my son. He didn't murder him. He executed him," Schmidt said.
Schmidt's among those whose innocent loved ones were killed and innocence was never in question.
"He sat there and told him -- I have three children please don't shoot me again," Schmidt said in his testimony. "He took my son's pistol, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger."
Schmidt's son, a Trumann Police officer, was shot and killed in 2011. Dash cam video from the patrol car shows death row inmate Jerry Lard shooting at officers; you hear Jonathan Schmidt beg for his life before shots ring out once more.
"Jerry Lard deserves the death penalty and I hope to God the state of Arkansas carries it out," Schmidt said.
For fathers like Schmidt, the death chamber could offer closure.
"It has to stop somewhere," he said.
For entirely different reasons, those who oppose the death penalty would use the same phrase for their cause.
A number of witnesses also testified to the committee regarding the costs of defending capital punishment cases from the initial trial to the appeals process. Leaders of the faith community spoke out against the practice on a moral basis.
There were also questions as to whether the practice is an effective deterrent to crime. Opponents of the death penalty offered scientific articles and journals that indicated it is not.
There are currently 37 inmates on death row, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC).
The last execution was held in 2005, and currently all executions are on hold in the state. The Arkansas Supreme Court found a lethal injection law from 2009 unconstitutional, after legislators delegated overseeing the procedure and policy components to the ADC.
According to Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, Wednesday's hearing was not because any pending legislation was on the books to abolish the death penalty, but rather revisit the issues surrounding the practice as the legislature considers reforming the legislation the court tossed out.
Victim's Families in Execution Viewing Area Passes Committee
A bill that would allow victim's families to view executions inside the chamber viewing area did pass through the committee following the Death Penalty hearing.
The bill was filed by State Senator Bart Hester (R) of Cave Springs.
Current policy allows media, the inmate's attorney and spiritual adviser, along with citizen witnesses inside the viewing area.
Victim's families have the opportunity to watch the execution in a different area on closed circuit television.
Hester's bill would allow up to five of the victim's immediate family members in the chamber to watch the execution.
The bill passed despite protestations from Dina Tyler, with the Arkansas Department of Correction. According to Tyler the space where executions are conducted is extremely small, and placing victim's families in the room with the inmate's advocates could result in outbursts and possibly expose family members to media attention they would not be comfortable with.