Kevin Strickland Freed From Missouri Prison After Serving 43 Years for a Crime He Did Not Commit

It took two trials for Strickland to be wrongfully convicted in an April 1978 triple murder. The first ended in a hung jury. In a second trial, the all-white jury convicted him.

After spending 43 years in a Missouri prison for a crime he did not commit, Kevin Strickland is a free man.

A judge ruled Tuesday to drop all criminal charges against Strickland, 63, who served at the Western Missouri Correctional Center.

It took two trials for Strickland to be convicted in an April 1978 triple murder.

The first ended in a hung jury. In a second trial, the all-white jury convicted him of one count of capital murder and two counts of 2nd-degree murder in a triple homicide. 

He received a 50-year sentence without the possibility for parole for a crime he maintained he wasn't involved in. 

At the time, Strickland told authorities he was at home watching television when the murders occurred. No physical evidence ever linked him to the crime. 

There was one surviving eyewitness, Cynthia Douglas, who died in 2015. Her family, including her sister, Cookie Douglas, testified on her behalf.

In 1978, Cynthia said Strickland was at the scene of the triple murder and told police two other men were some of the perpetrators. 

Over the last 30 years, Cynthia said she made a mistake in identifying Strickland because she felt police pressure to ID him. She worked with the Midwest Innocence Project to try and free him.

Strickland even remained imprisoned while two of the four actual shooters, Vincent Bell and Kilm Adkins, admitted under oath that Strickland had nothing to do with the murders.

They each pled guilty to 2nd-degree murder and spent a decade behind bars.

Over the summer, a new law was passed in Missouri allowing prosecutors to bring old cases back to court. That allowed Strickland's plea for innocence to be heard again.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker led the team who worked to free Strickland.

The time Strickland served makes him the longest wrongful imprisonment in Missouri's state history, and one of the longest in the nation, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Kevin is a free man but has no job history, no housing, no transportation, no health insurance, and no money. 

The GoFundMe set up by the Midwest Innocence Project says Missouri won't even pay him for time served since the state has no statute to compensate a person wrongfully convicted of a crime and later found innocent unless through DNA, which did not apply to Strickland's case.   

Although he cannot get back what was wrongfully stolen from him, Strickland has plans to make an impact with the time he has left. 

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