Douglas, who identified Strickland as the killer, said she was pressured by a 'dirty' cop to do so.
Kevin Strickland was wrongly convicted of murdering three people and spent 43 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Strickland is now a free man after senior Judge James Welsh dismissed all criminal counts against Strickland. Thousands of people are raising money to help him get back on his feet. A campaign by Innocence Project that started out with a target of $7,500 has crossed $1 million, reported CNN. He is 62 now and he will never get back those decades of his life he spent in prison.
Strickland received a 50-year life sentence without the possibility for parole for a crime in which he denied any involvement for all these years. He was sentenced after being convicted of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder in a triple homicide, reported CNN. Strickland's 43 years in jail is the longest wrongful imprisonment in Missouri history and also one of the longest in the nation, according to The National Registry of Exonerations. Strickland was exonerated earlier this week after spending decades at Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. The Innocence Project stated that Thirty-six states and Washington, DC, had laws in place to offer compensation for exonerees. The federal standard to compensate those who are wrongfully convicted is a minimum of $50,000 per year of incarceration, plus an additional amount for each year spent on death row.
Those exonerated through DNA testing are eligible for $50 per day of post-conviction confinement but that wasn't the case with Strickland, which meant that he wouldn't be eligible for any monetary support from the state of Missouri. The Midwest Innocence Project stepped in and created a GoFundMe account and shared his story to raise money for the man.
Kevin Strickland will be freed. Praise the Lord! My heart breaks that his mother never got the chance to see him free, but I am heartened that we have justice. My thanks to the Midwest Innocence Project, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker, and all who fought for Kevin.— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) November 23, 2021
Strickland was watching a soap opera when a breaking news report revealed that he had been released. On being released, he first took a trip to his mother's grave. "To know my mother was underneath that dirt and I hadn't gotten a chance to visit with her in the last years ... I revisited those tears that I did when they told me I was guilty of a crime I didn't commit," said Strickland. His first night out was an uneasy one filled with anxiety. Strickland said he couldn't sleep. "I'm used to living in a close, confined cell where I know exactly what's going on in there with me," he said. "And being home and you hear the creaks of the home settling and the electrical wiring and whatever else ... I was kind of afraid. I thought somebody was coming to get me."
3. That witness, Cynthia Douglas, recanted her identification.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 22, 2021
On February 4, 2009, Douglas sent an email to the Missouri Innocence Project with the subject "Wrongfully charged." https://t.co/712a5tdWsY pic.twitter.com/A0RLqtPFli
The crime that put Strickland behind bars happened on April 25, 1978, when four people were shot in Kansas City, Missouri. Three of them died with Cynthia Douglas being the sole survivor of the crime. Douglas identified Strickland as being at the scene of the triple murder. Douglas, who died in 2015, told cops then that Vincent Bell and Kiln Adkins were two of the perpetrators. They pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and served roughly 10 years in prison for the crimes, said Strickland's attorney, Robert Hoffman. Even the real killer vouched for Strickland in court but to no avail. Douglas said she was pressured by a 'dirty' cop who killed his wife and himself just months later, reported Yahoo News. “Just pick Strickland out of the lineup and we’ll be done,” Douglas recalled, according to court records, reported The Washington Post “It will all go away, you can go on, and you don’t have to worry about these guys no more.”
At the time, the trial ended with a hung jury after the only Black juror refused to find him guilty. He would then be retried with an all-white jury. This time he was found guilty and convicted of triple murder. Douglas has been saying for over 30 years that she wrongly identified Strickland and even joined hands with the Midwest Innocence Project to help free the man.