A 60-year-old African-American was exonerated and released Tuesday by a Missouri court after spending 43 years in prison over a miscarriage of justice.
Kevin Strickland, 62, was sentenced in 1979 to life imprisonment by an all-white jury for a triple murder he has always denied having committed. “No material evidence linked him to the crime and he was convicted solely on the basis of the testimony” of a survivor who then retracted, noted Judge James Welsh in his decision. In addition, two of the four perpetrators of the murderous raid had formally exonerated him.
“The confidence of the court in the conviction of Mr. Strickland is so undermined that it can not hold,” concluded the magistrate by ordering the “immediate release” of the prisoner. The Jackson County prosecutor, who had asked for the conviction to be overturned, praised the move. “Justice is – finally – done for this man who has suffered so much from this tragic miscarriage of justice,” said Jean Peters Baker.
The name of Kevin Strickland has now added to a long list of Americans victims of miscarriages of justice, and is among those who have spent the most time behind bars. According to the “National Registry of Exonerations”, a project carried out by several American universities, the approximately 2,500 people cleared by justice in the last thirty years have spent an average of 13.9 years in prison, with a maximum of 47 years and 2 months. .
The Midwest Innocence Project organization, which carried Kevin Strickland’s case, set up a crowdfunding campaign on the Internet to help him settle into his new life. Had recently indicated to him Washington Post wanting, once free, to go to the grave of his mother, who died this summer, and to see, for the first time, the ocean.