Kevin Strickland exonerated in one of U.S.’s longest wrongful convictions cases

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A judge on Tuesday approved prosecutors’ motion to acquit Kevin Strickland in one of the longest wrongful convictions in US history. Kansas City Star reports,

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why it matters: Strickland went free after spending more than 43 years in prison for three murders, which he did not commit.

How did this happen: Strickland, now 62, was 18 when he was arrested in Missouri in 1978. Four suspects shot four people and killed three of them. Cynthia Douglas was the only one to survive.

  • According to Star, after hearing the description of the man with the shotgun, Douglas’s sister, who was not present at the scene, suggested that Strickland might be a criminal.
  • Douglas called the police and later identified Strickland as a suspect from a lineup of four people, although her relatives now say she was under pressure from detectives. Prosecutors say he later withdrew his testimony.
  • Strickland’s first trial in 1979 ended in an 11 to one hung jury. The only Black juror was the only one to call for an acquittal. Prosecutors intentionally excluded black people from serving as jury in Strickland’s second trial.
  • An all-white jury convicted him of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison for 50 years without an opportunity for parole.
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Jackson County Prosecutor Strickland sentencing review begins after Starr’s decision check september 2020, That included interviews with two people who confessed to the crime. He swore that Strickland was not with him during the murders.

  • Strickland was declared “factually innocent” in May, after which prosecutors filed a motion to set her free.

What are they saying: “Under these unique circumstances, the court’s confidence in Strickland’s sentencing is so eroded that it cannot stand, and the conviction must be overturned,” Judge James Welsh wrote Tuesday. according to the Washington Post,

  • “I was an easy mark, and the police took advantage of it,” Strickland told reporters outside the court house, “I didn’t think this day would come…Thank God it saved me and protected me for 43 years.”
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