Kevin Strickland who was convicted in 1979 of three murders – wins after 43 years in prison. The acquittal came after before her death, one of the main witnesses withdrew her testimony and explained that “the police pressured her”. Prisoner: “I’m not necessarily angry”
A Kansas City resident who has been in jail for more than 40 years for three murders has been released after a judge ruled his 1979 conviction was incorrect. Prisoner Kevin Strickland, now 62, has argued all along that he had nothing to do with the murders, and that at the time of their occurrence, when he was 18, he was even sitting at home.
The decision to release him from prison is now known to Strickland while another routine is in jail. According to him, the prisoners around him started screaming when the decision became known. “I’m not necessarily angry,” he told reporters as he was released from Missouri prison.
Strickland said he now hopes to be involved in efforts to prevent what happened to him from happening to other people, and that the U.S. criminal justice system needs to be dismantled and reassembled.
It was Judge James Walsh of the Court of Appeals who ruled yesterday that Strickland should be released. He did so at the end of a three-day hearing held at the request of a Jackson County prosecutor, who argued that the evidence used for Strickland’s conviction had meanwhile been refuted.
In his ruling, Walsh stated that he was presented with clear and compelling evidence that undermines the court’s confidence in the justification of Strickland’s conviction. He noted that no physical evidence ever linked Strickland to the crime scene, and that a key witness in the affair retracted her testimony before she died.
The hearing at the end of which it was decided last night to release him from prison focused on the testimony of Cynthia Douglas, who was the only person who survived the shooting incident in which the three were killed. In the two trials held for Strickland she testified that he was one of the four men who shot the victims.
“Judge Walsh wrote last night in his ruling that immediately after the conviction, Douglas developed doubts, but at first she hesitated to act on the matter because she feared that if she publicly retracted her testimony, she would be prosecuted.”