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62-year-old Missouri man who spent 43 years in prison still behind bars even though prosecutors say he was wrongly convicted of 3 murders

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has so far turned down 62-year-old Kevin Strickland’s appeals for pardon. Jeff Roberson / AP

  • A Missouri district attorney’s office said a 62-year-old man was wrongly convicted of the murder of three people.

  • Kevin Strickland has spent the past 43 years in prison for three 1978 Kansas City murders.

  • The key witness in the case who was the sole survivor of the attack retracted his testimony.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

A 62-year-old man from Missouri has spent the past 43 years in jail for three murders that a local prosecutor and key witness in the case say he did not commit.

According to an ABC News report, Kevin Strickland was convicted in 1979 of three Kansas City murders that took place the previous year. All three murders took place just two miles from Strickland’s Kansas City home, according to the report.

Strickland, who was 18 when the three people were shot, claimed he was at his home watching TV and talking on the phone with his girlfriend at the time of the murders, according to the report.

At the time, Jackson County prosecutors said they found Strickland’s fingerprints on another suspect’s car, but Strickland said he had known him from childhood and had driven his vehicle before. .

Cynthia Douglas, the only surviving victim in the case, had identified Strickland in a queue, according to the report.

The same Jackson County District Attorney’s office that tried Strickland now believes he is “factually innocent” of the murders, according to the Kansas City Star report.

“I am arguing here for Mr. Strickland’s freedom and his conviction should be overturned,” Jackson County District Attorney Jean Peters Baker said last month. “Most importantly, I advocate that this man be released immediately. “

In affidavits, two other men, Vincent Bell and Kilm Adkins, admitted to the murders and cleared Strickland, according to ABC News. A third suspect who was never charged in 2019 also claimed Strickland was innocent, the Kansas City Star reported.

Strickland’s first trial resulted in a suspended jury, according to the Kansas City Star. The only black juror on the case was the only one to resist, according to the report. Strickland was then convicted by an all-white jury.

Douglas, the sole survivor of the attacks and the key witness in the initial trial, has since retracted his story. In 2009, Douglas contacted the Midwest Innocence Project and said she believed Strickland had been “wrongly charged,” according to the Kansas City Star.

Calls for Strickland’s release have grown since the Midwest Innocence Project took over his case three years ago, according to ABC News. More than a dozen bipartisan state lawmakers recently called on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, to pardon Strickland.

But Strickland remains in prison.

Parson released a list of 36 pardons in late May, but Strickland was not one of them, the Kansas City Star reported. Parson, meanwhile, said Strickland’s case was not a “priority.”

“When something like that comes up, we look at those cases, but I’m not sure if that necessarily makes it a priority to jump in front of the line,” Parson said Monday, according to the Kansas City Star. “We understand that some cases are going to get more media attention than others, but we’re just going to look at these things.”

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