Prosecutor Says Missouri Man Who Has Spent 42 Years in Prison for 1978 Triple-Murder Should be Set Free Due to Faulty Evidence

Kevin Strickland | CREDIT: COURTESY MIDWEST INNOCENCE PROJECT

A Missouri man who has served more than 42 years in prison for a triple-murder should be set free because the evidence used to convict him doesn’t add up, says the prosecutor whose office put the man behind bars.

“All those who have reviewed the evidence in recent months agree — Kevin Strickland deserves to be exonerated,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement released Monday. “This is a profound error we must correct now.”

Strickland was 18 in 1978 when the sole surviving witness of an attack in a Kansas City home that killed three others — Sherrie Black, John Walker, and Larry Ingram — identified him as a participant in the shooting. The witness, Cynthia Douglas, was shot in the leg and said she survived by playing dead.

Immediately after the shooting, Douglas named two other men, Vincent Bell and Kilm Adkins, who both wound up pleading guilty.

But that night, despite knowing Strickland personally, Douglas could not identify a third man holding a shotgun — and didn’t change her mind until the next day, when her sister’s boyfriend suggested it might have been Strickland, according to a letter written by Baker to advocates with the Midwest Innocence Project.

“Just pick Strickland out of the lineup and we’ll be done, it will all go away, you can go on and you don’t have to worry about these guys no more,” Douglas said she was told, in a recollection shared with members of Strickland’s legal team, reports KCTV.

Douglas — whose testimony proved pivotal in Strickland’s conviction for the murders — eventually recanted after hearing the confessions of others, including Bell, who said in 1979, “I’m telling the State and the society out there right now that Kevin Strickland wasn’t there at that house,” reports KCTV.

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Jeff Truesdell