Kansas City, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who has been jailed for more than 40 years for three murders wrongfully convicted in 1979 will be released, a Missouri judge ruled Tuesday.
Kevin Strickland, 62, has always maintained That he was watching TV at home and had nothing to do with the murders at the age of 18.
Judge James Welsh, a retired Missouri Court of Appeals judge, delivered the ruling after a three-day evidence hearing requested by a Jackson County prosecutor, who said the evidence used to convict Strickland was removed after his 1979 sentence. again or was rejected.
Efforts led by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and other legal and political leaders to free Strickland led Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt. Schmidt, a Republican running for Joe US SenateSaid Strickland was guilty. Governor Mike Parson denied Strickland’s clemency requests.
Strickland was convicted in the death of Larry Ingram, 21; John Walker, 20; and Sherry Black, 22, at a home in Kansas City.
The trial of evidence focused largely on the previous testimony of Cynthia Douglas, the only person to survive the April 25, 1978 shooting. She initially identified Strickland as one of the four men who shot the victims and testified to this during two of her trials.
But she later said that police pressured her into selecting Strickland and spent years trying to alert political and legal experts to help prove that she had identified the wrong man, as His family, friends, and a co-worker testified during the hearing. Douglas died in 2015.
During the hearing, attorneys for the Missouri Attorney General’s office argued that Strickland’s advocates had not provided any sort of paper trail to prove that Douglas tried to replicate his identity of Strickland, adding that He held that the doctrine was based on “hearing, rumour, hearing”.
The Kansas City Star reported that two other men convicted in the murders later insisted that Strickland was not at the crime scene. He named two other suspects who were never charged.
During his testimony, Strickland denied the suggestion that he offered Douglas $300 to “keep his mouth shut” and said he had never been to the house where the murders had taken place before.
Strickland is Black, and her first trial ended in a hung jury when the sole Black juror, a woman, was set out to acquit. After his second trial in 1979, he was convicted by an all-white jury of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
In May, Peters Baker announced that a review of the case had led him to believe that Strickland was innocent.
In June, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear Strickland’s petition.
In August, Peters Baker used a new state law To demand a trial of evidence in Jackson County, where Strickland was convicted. The law allows local prosecutors to challenge the conviction if they believe the defendant did not commit a crime. It was the first time—and only so far—that a prosecutor has used the law to fight a previous conviction.
The hearings were delayed several times due to motions filed by Schmidt’s office, one of which successfully argued the inclusion of all judges in the 16th Circuit, including Jackson County, was dropped from the hearing, citing a letter. In which the presiding judge of the circuit said he agreed with Strickland. should be acquitted. Welsh was then appointed to preside over the hearing.