Kevin Strickland: Black man jailed for triple murder exonerated after 43 years in prison

A judge ordered 62-year-old to be immediately released, ending one of the longest wrongful convictions in US history

Nathan Place
New York
Tuesday 23 November 2021 20:07
<p>Kevin Strickland spent 43 years in prison before being exonerated </p>

Kevin Strickland spent 43 years in prison before being exonerated

Kevin Strickland has been exonerated after 43 years in prison and will be immediately released, a judge has ruled.

The 62-year-old Black inmate had been convicted of the 1978 murders of three people – a conviction that Judge James Welsh says was too flawed to uphold.

“Under these unique circumstances, the Court’s confidence in Strickland’s conviction is so undermined that it cannot stand, and the judgment of conviction must be set aside,” Judge Welsh wrote. “The State of Missouri shall immediately discharge Kevin Bernard Strickland from its custody.”

The exoneration marks the end of the longest wrongful conviction in Missouri’s history, and one of the longest in US history in general.

Mr Strickland was convicted in 1979 of the fatal shootings of Larry Ingram, John Walker, and Sherrie Black during a home invasion in Kansas City. Mr Strickland was 18 at the time of the murders, and has always insisted he was at home watching television when they occurred.

At an evidentiary hearing held over the past three days, prosecutors said no physical evidence linked Mr Strickland to the scene of the crime, and the conviction was largely based on the word of one eyewitness, Cynthia Douglas, who tried multiple times to recant her testimony.

Lawyers for the Missouri Attorney General’s office, who argued to uphold the conviction, said there was no solid documentation of Ms Douglas’ attempts to recant, calling the story “hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay.”

In the end, Judge Welsh sided with Mr Strickland.

When he leaves prison, Mr Strickland told The Washington Post, the first stop he wants to make is at his mother’s grave.

“If we don’t stop at the gravesite first, I’m going to get out of the car and I’m going to try to make it there on my hands and knees,” he told the paper.

In a statement, the Missouri AG’s office said it accepted the ruling, even if it disagreed with it.

“In this case, we defended the rule of law and the decision that a jury of Mr Strickland’s peers made after hearing all of the facts in the case,” spokesman Chris Nuelle told Fox 4 KC. “The Court has spoken, no further action will be taken in this matter.”

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