AAt the request of the public prosecutor’s office, a court in the US state of Missouri overturned a judgment against Kevin Strickland, who was wrongly convicted of murder, after more than 42 years. The 62-year-old African-American was released from prison Tuesday after years of evidence of his innocence collected by the Midwest Innocence Project, an error-solving organization. As early as May, the Jackson District Attorney’s Office declared Strickland “de facto innocent.” The Missouri State Department of Justice upheld the 1979 guilty verdict until a hearing two weeks ago.
At the time, Strickland was sentenced to life imprisonment for three homicides, with the option of early release after 50 years. The jury saw it as proven that he and three accomplices shot three people in a burglary and seriously injured a woman.
Confusion in identification
20-year-old Cynthia Douglas pretended to be dead in the attack. When she later described the perpetrators to a friend, he was reminded of Strickland. When compared, Douglas thought he recognized the then seventeen-year-old. As researched by the Midwest Innocence Project, Vincent Bell, who was involved in the attack, stated four months after Strickland’s conviction that Douglas had mistaken Strickland. Douglas himself later stated several times that he had made a mistake in identification.
Strickland, one of the innocents with the longest incarceration in American prisons, does not expect any compensation after more than 42 years. The state of Missouri only allows payments to be made to innocent people whose sentences have been overturned using DNA analysis.