KANSAS City, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man who has been jailed for more than 40 years for three murders was wrongfully convicted in 1979 and will be released, a Missouri judge ruled Tuesday.

Kevin Strickland (62), has always maintainedHe claimed that he was at home, watching TV, and did not have anything to do with the murders which occurred when he turned 18 years.

Retired Judge James Welsh of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled following a three-day evidentiary Hearing requested by a Jackson County Prosecutor. This hearing determined that Strickland’s evidence had been retracted or disproven after his 1979 conviction.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt opposed efforts by Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor and other political and legal leaders to release Strickland. Schmitt (a Republican) is running for the Republican nomination. U.S. SenateStrickland, he said was guilty. Gov. Mike Parson declined Strickland’s clemency requests.

Strickland was found guilty in the murders of Larry Ingram (21), John Walker (20), and Sherrie Schwarz (22) at their Kansas City home.

Cynthia Douglas was the sole survivor from the shootings of April 25, 1978. This testimony was the main focus of the evidentiary hearing. She identified Strickland initially as one of the four victims, and testified that fact during two of his trials.

She later claimed she was forced by police to select Strickland. According to her testimony at the hearing, her friends, family and coworkers, she tried to notify political and legal professionals for many years so she could prove that she identified the wrong man. Douglas passed away in 2015.

During the hearing, attorneys for the Missouri Attorney General’s office argued that Strickland’s advocates had not provided any kind of paper trail that proved Douglas tried to recant her identification of Strickland, saying the theory was based on “hearsay, upon hearsay, upon hearsay,”

Kevin Strickland responds to questions at an evidentiary hearing held Nov. 8.
via Associated Press

Two other men convicted in the killings later insisted that Strickland wasn’t at the crime scene, The Kansas City Star reported. The Kansas City Star reported that they also named two additional suspects who weren’t ever charged.

During his testimony, Strickland denied suggestions that he offered Douglas $300 to “keep her mouth shut,” and said he had never visited the house where the murders occurred before they happened.

Strickland, who is Black, was convicted of two counts of capital murder in 1979. His first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury, with the sole Black juror, a female, holding out for his acquittal. In 1979, his second trial ended in a hung jury. He was found guilty of two counts each of capital murder as well as second-degree murder by an all-white jury.

Peters Baker revealed in May that she had reviewed the case and concluded that Strickland wasn’t guilty.

In June, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear Strickland’s petition.

Peters Baker will be open in August used a new state lawTo request an evidentiary hearing in Jackson County where Strickland was convicted, Local prosecutors can challenge convictions in Jackson County if the defendant is not guilty of the crime. It was the first time — and so far the only time — that a prosecutor has used the law to fight a previous conviction.

The hearing was delayed several times by motions filed by Schmitt’s office, one of which successfully argued to have all judges in the 16th Circuit, which includes Jackson County, recused from the hearings, citing a letter in which the circuit’s presiding judge said he agreed Strickland should be exonerated. The hearing was then presided over by Welsh.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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