US misjudgment against blacks overturned after 43 years

by time news

A murder sentence against a black man who was innocent in prison for 43 years has been overturned in the US state of Missouri. A judge on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of 62-year-old Kevin Strickland. The African American was convicted in 1979 solely on the basis of the testimony of an eyewitness who later retracted her testimony. The guilty verdict at the time is therefore not tenable.

Strickland was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1979 for a triple homicide in the city of Kansas City, Missouri. A jury made up of all white jurors had previously found the African American guilty. The victims were found tied up and shot the previous year. The only survivor of the crime first identified Strickland as one of the four perpetrators. She later withdrew this.

Two other men convicted of triple homicide also testified at the time that Strickland was not involved and named two other men. There was no evidence linking Strickland to the murders – and he had an alibi for the time of the crime.

Most recently, the responsible public prosecutor’s office also came to the conclusion that Strickland is innocent – and welcomed the reversal of the judgment on Tuesday. “To say that we are extremely pleased and grateful would be an understatement,” said prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “It finally brings justice to a man who has tragically suffered for so long because of false conviction.”

The Midwest Innocence Project, founded by the Law Faculty of the University of Missouri in Kansas City, had campaigned for Strickland to try to get people wrongly convicted free. According to experts, Strickland is one of the longest-serving inmates in the United States, wrongly convicted and then found innocent.

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