Kevin Strickland, who spent 43 years in Missouri prison for a non-violent crime, is now free.
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 trial resulted in a hung juror. 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.
For a crime in which he claimed he was not involved, he received a 50 year sentence with no parole possibility.
Strickland stated that he was home at the time when the murders took place. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Cynthia Douglas, the only surviving eyewitness, died in 2015. Her family, including Cookie Douglas, testified for her.
Cynthia claimed that Strickland was present at the scene for the triple murder in 1978 and said two other men were involved.
Cynthia claimed that she made a mistake when she identified Strickland over the past 30 years because she felt pressured by police to do so. To help Strickland, she worked with the Midwest Innocence Project.
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.
Each of them pleaded guilty 2nd-degree murder, and each spent 10 years behind bars.
Missouri passed a new law this summer that allowed prosecutors to bring back old cases to court. This allowed Strickland to plead innocence again.
Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor, led the team that worked to free Strickland.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Strickland’s time in Missouri’s state prison is the longest wrongful imprisonment and the longest in the country.
Kevin is a single man, but he has no job history. He also doesn’t have any housing or transportation. Kevin does not have health insurance.
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.
Strickland knows he can’t get the money back, but he plans to make an impact on the time he leaves.