Wrongfully Convicted (Former) Skinhead Changes Paths
Kevin Baruxes of Rancho Bernardo, California was 17 years old when 20-year-old Courtni Mahaffy invited him into her apartment for a water or lemonade. He thought she was being nice. In 1996, Courtni told police that three men, including Kevin Baruxes, who had just turned 18, raped her at knife point. She vividly recalled the “Skinhead” tattoo on Kevin;s’ back. She said that even though she was white, Kevin told her to “go back to Africa.”
Every time Courtni spoke to detectives, her story and description of Kevin changed. In spite of her changing story, a lack of physical evidence, and Kevin’s alibi that he was home with his family, the jury convicted him. He was sentenced to 18 years to life. Kevin went to prison so afraid that he didn’t use the bathroom for 4 days. He didn’t want the other inmates to know the crime he was convicted of committing, and that went well until about 5 years into his sentence.
Kevin got a new cellmate and he wasn’t willing to keep quiet about why Kevin was in prison. Later that day, Kevin was stabbed twice with a 7-inch knife made out of a cookie pan from the kitchen. His lung and kidney was punctured. Kevin was close to death.
In 2002, the district attorney’s office received an email from Courtni Mahaffy’s ex-fiance, Mike Chaney. Chaney said that Mahaffy confessed to him that Kevin did not rape her. He also said she was a chronic liar.
Kevin’s lawyer hired an investigator who found that others corroborated the ex-finance’s story. He talked to an ex-boyfriend, a former roommate, and Courtni’s ex-husband. Eventually, the prosecutor tracked down Courtni and she admitted over the phone that she didn’t think Kevin raped her.
Kevin went free soon after. He received $258,000 in compensation. He said that he got his tattoos removed right after he got out.
But, this story isn’t only about the wrongful conviction, Kevin’s attack in prison that almost killed him, and his being set free from a crime he didn’t commit. It’s also about growing up; maturing, and getting off the skinhead path.
Kevin said that it was his older brother who got him into the skinhead movement in high school. For Kevin, it was intimidating other people. While he was in prison, he matured out of that attitude. Kevin says of that path that “It was a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of thinking.”
Some people can and do change for the better. Some people change when they stand in the shoes of those they once believed deserved what they got.
Kevin now has a wife and 2-year-old daughter, and works recycling asphalt for pavement projects across Southern California.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune