Georgetown students work to exonerate Baltimore man freed after 27 years in prison

At 16 years old, he was convicted of murder. Last week, Kenneth Bond, now 43, walked out of prison. The Baltimore man plans to clear his name next.

Striding across the parking lot toward a waiting crowd and away from the Jessup Correctional Institute, Kenneth Bond stood tall with a wide smile — free for the first time in 27 years.

“You know, it was kind of surreal. It was kind of one of those moments, where it’s like a dream,” Bond told WTOP.

Kenneth Bond celebrates his newfound freedom outside the Jessup Correctional Insitution. (Courtesy Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative)

At a hearing last week, attorney Marc Howard argued for Bond’s release.

Bond was sentenced to life plus 60 years for something that he said he did not do — the killing of 19-year-old Terrence Augusta McKoy.

McKoy, a Morgan State freshman, was shot at a bus stop in Northeast Baltimore in November 1995.

In addition to McKoy’s killing, Bond was also charged with attempted murder after a bullet struck 10-year-old Robert Lucas, who was in a van traveling near the shooting, in the hip, the Baltimore Sun reported. Lucas recovered and was released from the hospital days later.

Over the course of his incarceration, Bond grew up, matured, became very educated and incredibly well-read. He participated in every program that the prison had to offer; he had no prison disciplinary record whatsoever for the last 18 years.

“He is just an extraordinary human being,” Howard said. They met while Howard was volunteering to teach at the Jessup Correctional Institute.

After learning about his case, Howard tasked his students at Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative to examine the facts. They put together a 10-minute documentary on the case.

“Our students, when investigating the case, they found out that his conviction was really based on two things. One was an eyewitness who had never been sure that it was Kenneth and never actually affirmatively positively identified him. And the second was a form of ballistics evidence that has been completely discredited and can be considered junk science,” Howard said.

A judge agreed to reduce Bond’s sentence, which allowed for his release through the Maryland Juvenile Restoration Act, enacted in 2021, which allows felons, who were convicted as minors and have served 20 years to have their sentences reduced.

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office supported his release, citing his personal transformation, educational achievements, and his potential to contribute positively to his community.

Freed but not exonerated

The Prisons and Justice Initiative counts Bond as the fifth person it has freed from prison; however, he is not exonerated.

“We all believe in Kenneth’s innocence. We believe that we’ve proven it. And we want to have the opportunity in court to make this outcome really just, which is getting him fully declared exonerated. And along with that should come compensation,” Howard said.

Bond admits he was involved in crime as a teen, but said he does not deserve to be called a murderer.

“Even just the conviction still, you know, it’s a scarlet letter, the brightest one. You know when people ask, and in going up to parole and probation, and she’d say, ‘What is your charge?’ And then I have to say, ‘murder.’ I mean, you know, you got to think about the feeling, the chemical reaction that goes on within, when you hear somebody say that … all types of questions come to mind. I just don’t want that title. I don’t want that label. I’m fighting to, you know, ’til there’s no fight in me left,” Bond said.

He said he’s grateful for the supporters in his corner, including the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and attorneys at Cooley LLP, who believed in the case enough to take it on pro bono.

While his team continues to push to clear his name, Bond is focusing on his final semester at the  University of Baltimore and spending time with his kids.

“I gotta make up for those moments, those experiences, because I desire them. I want to know how it feels to be on the beach with my family or to take a trip to Cancun or out of the country. It’s something, I want to know how all those things feel,” Bond said.

Bond is reuniting with family and friends in Baltimore and getting used to the freedom that he did not know he would ever experience again.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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