Prosecutors Say Man Who Has Been In Prison For 40 Years Is Innocent, Should Be Released

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A Kansas city man, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole in a 1978 triple murder case, is actually innocent, prosecutors determined Saturday.

61-year-old Kevin Strickland was convicted of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder but had always maintained his innocence, according to KCTV. Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Baker wrote in a Saturday letter that “based upon the amount and quality of the evidence available today, this office would not charge Mr. Strickland with any crime.”

“Reliable, corroborated evidence now proves that Mr. Strickland is factually innocent of the charges for which he was convicted in 1979,” the letter stated.

“This is a profound error we must correct now,” Baker said Monday, according to The Kansas City Star.

Four people were attacked by at least four gunmen who broke into a home on April 25, 1978. Two men and one woman were shot to death, while a fourth woman was shot in the leg but pretended to be dead and eventually survived, KCTV reported.

Police reportedly pressured the surviving victim Cynthia Douglas to identify Strickland — who closely resembled one of the attackers — as the fourth gunman.

“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 recalled being told by police in a confession to Strickland’s legal team, according to KCTV. (RELATED: Idaho Will Pay People Wrongfully Convicted $62,000 For Each Year Spent In Jail)

Douglas, who died in 2015, reportedly contacted the Midwest Innocence Project in 2009, seeking help in resolving the wrongful conviction.

“But I’m telling you the truth today that Kevin Strickland wasn’t there at the house that day. I’m telling you the truth. Kevin Strickland wasn’t at that house,” Vincent Bell, an admitted killer, said in his testimony back in 1979.

Both Bell and Adkins, the real killers, served about 10 years each before their release, according to The Kansas City Star.

The petition demanding Strickland’s immediate exoneration is now before the Missouri Supreme Court. The document also points to new information — a fingerprint found on a murder weapon does not match Strickland’s — KCTV reported.