More Than $1 Million Raised to Help Kevin Strickland

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More than 20,000 strangers person donated to an online fund-raiser to assistance Kevin Strickland’s re-entry to society.

Kevin Strickland aft  his merchandise  from situation  connected  Tuesday. He said helium  hopes to physique  a tiny  location   with a sportfishing  pond nearby.
Credit...Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star, via Associated Press

Nov. 27, 2021, 8:53 a.m. ET

Kevin Strickland near a Missouri situation penniless connected Tuesday aft serving much than 40 years for a triple execution that helium did not commit, but much than 20,000 strangers person donated astir $1.3 cardinal to an online fund-raiser to assistance his re-entry to society.

He was exonerated without DNA evidence, which disqualified him from being compensated by the state, contempt spending decades down bars, his lawyers said. Mr. Strickland, 62, said connected Friday that the assemblage did not beryllium him thing for his wrongful imprisonment.

“The courts failed maine and that’s who should beryllium trying to marque my beingness a small much comfortable,” helium said. “I truly bash admit the donations and contributions they made to effort to assistance maine acclimate to society.”

Mr. Strickland said the 4 days backmost successful Kansas City had been overwhelming.

The sprawl of highways was particularly dizzying, helium said during a telephone telephone portion headed to the Independence Center buying promenade to walk $25 that idiosyncratic had fixed him. He said helium planned to bargain a container of cough drops and a ablution headdress — his archetypal purchases extracurricular of situation successful much than 40 years.

The online fund-raiser, organized by the Midwest Innocence Project, was acceptable up by Tricia Rojo Bushnell, 1 of his lawyers and the project’s enforcement director. Ms. Bushnell said she routinely raises funds for recently released clients but the magnitude raised for Mr. Strickland was a surprise.

“I deliberation for each of america it’s hopeful, right?” Ms. Bushnell said. “Until the strategy has changed wherever the strategy is failing, the assemblage is stepping successful to hole it, to capable the void. It’s beauteous amazing.”

Mr. Strickland does not yet person a slope account, a telephone oregon a signifier of authorities identification. For now, helium is staying astatine a brother’s house.

Mr. Strickland volition person the afloat magnitude of the donations arsenic soon arsenic helium has a slope relationship to transportation it into, Ms. Bushnell said. The Midwest Innocence Project volition besides acceptable him up with a fiscal advisor to assistance him operation the wealth and find however helium wishes to walk it.

Ms. Bushnell printed retired a packet of supportive comments that accompanied the galore donations.

“I privation I knew however galore pages it is, but it’s precise thick,” she said. “He tin work them and spot them and cognize that it’s not conscionable monetary. The folks person messages and stories of anticipation for him.”

Mr. Strickland was convicted successful 1979 of sidesplitting 3 radical successful Kansas City the twelvemonth before: Sherrie Black, 22; Larry Ingram, 21; and John Walker, 20. The lone eyewitness had picked Mr. Strickland from a lineup. Mr. Strickland was sentenced to beingness successful situation without the anticipation of parole for 50 years.

One of the 2 different men who pleaded blameworthy to the murders maintained that Mr. Strickland played nary portion successful the killings, and the sole eyewitness aboriginal recanted her testimony, Judge James E. Welsh of Missouri’s Western District Court of Appeals noted successful his determination to exonerate Mr. Strickland.

The exoneration precocious aft the transition this twelvemonth of a authorities instrumentality allowing prosecutors to clasp hearings for imaginable wrongful convictions for which determination was caller evidence.

Jean Peters Baker, the authoritative for Jackson County, said successful a connection that she filed a question successful Mr. Strickland’s lawsuit arsenic soon arsenic she could successful August.

“Mr. Strickland was falsely held for 43 years and helium doesn’t person a azygous cent to enactment him from the State of Missouri,” she said. “He should beryllium paid for this incorrect that happened to him. No 1 could reason that would not beryllium the close thing, the conscionable thing, to do.”

Barbara O’Brien, the exertion of the National Registry of Exonerations, said determination is simply a misconception that a bulk of exonerations relied connected DNA evidence. Of the registry’s 2,900 exonerations, lone 549 progressive DNA.

“It’s shortsighted to person a compensation strategy that turns connected whether oregon not there’s DNA grounds of innocence due to the fact that that has thing to bash with however guiltless they are,” she said.

Ann Jacobs, enforcement manager of John Jay College’s Institute for Justice and Opportunity, said that the extremity of re-entry into nine was to “move from survival” to a program for semipermanent stableness and self-sufficiency.

“Everybody who, you know, goes distant for immoderate play of clip has to travel backmost and reconstruct a full beingness for themselves, and their quality to bash that is antithetic depending connected what their lives were similar earlier they went in, however agelong they’ve been away, and what benignant of enactment exists for them erstwhile they get out,” she said.

In galore cases, it is precise important for those exonerated to person a ceremonial apology, Ms. O’Brien said. Mr. Strickland said helium would person liked to person apologies from apical authorities officials but that he’s not dwelling connected it.

There are different beingness plans to be to, helium said, similar leaving Missouri and pursuing his imagination of buying a tiny portion of onshore extracurricular of a city.

“I’ll physique a tiny house, a tiny bedroom, two- to three-bedroom house, person maine immoderate chickens and 4 to 5 dogs, a sportfishing pond determination adjacent by, a large obstruction wherever cipher tin get in,” helium said. “Just immoderate unsocial time, immoderate getaway space.”

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