Kevin Strickland thanks the judge, his legal team and the prosecutor after his release from prison | New
CAMERON, MO (KCTV) – Kevin Strickland has left West Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, MO, a free man after spending 43 years locked up for a crime a judge agrees he did not commit .
Judge James Welsh released his ruling on Tuesday and ordered that “the state of Missouri immediately release Kevin Bernard Strickland from custody.”
Strickland said he first learned of the decision while watching a soap opera inside the prison. He was the alert for the latest news. Then he heard everyone inside the prison screaming and screaming. Within hours, he was in front of reporters waiting outside the prison.
âI didn’t think that day would come,â Strickland said. “Not until I got this legal team, I didn’t.”
Strickland also thanked the judge. The judge cited the lack of evidence against Strickland for his ruling. He also said that eyewitness Cynthia Douglas’s retractions to family and friends were reliable, numerous and consistent.
âThank you for reviewing all of the new evidence that was against me to begin with,â Strickland said. “I really appreciate that you took the time to listen and understand what really happened in 1978.”
And finally, he thanked Jackson County District Attorney Jean Peters Baker, even joked that some of the inmates he had just left might not have the same feelings for her. But she was able to send her case to court due to a new Missouri law allowing prosecutors to review wrongful convictions and send them to court.
It was the first such case since the law came into force last summer. Attorney Lindsay Runnels said the case was being closely watched. She is a lawyer for Lamar Johnson. Johnson was convicted of a murder in St. Louis and has maintained his innocence.
âIt was a shocking issue when Lamar Johnson remained in custody as the prosecutor stood up and said, ‘I have found evidence of innocence. I want to do something ‘and then be told there’s no road for you,’ Runnels said.
But she is encouraged by today’s decision.
âIt was the right thing to do,â Runnels said. But adds: “We should do better. (This) shouldn’t take so many resources. It shouldn’t take that long. Once we have clear proof of innocence. It should be quick, it should be efficient, and it should be something we can do with all reasonable parties. “
And while Strickland is a free man tonight, his freedom is all he will get from the state. He will not get any compensation for the mistake that was made.
The State only authorizes the compensation of exonerated persons through a very specific procedure. The person has to request a DNA test and this DNA test is what leads to the evidence that proves his innocence. Strickland is also not entitled to social security because he has not had a job.
A GoFundMe account has been created for Kevin Strickland by the Midwest Innocence Project. This fund has more than doubled today.
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