A man spent 43 years in prison for a triple murder he says he didn't commit. He's now a free man

Kevin Strickland has maintained since his conviction that he wasn't anywhere near the crime scene.


After 43 years in prison, Kevin Strickland is a free man.

After hearings earlier this month, Judge James Welsh, a retired Missouri Court of Appeals judge, has decided to set aside Strickland's conviction in time for Thanksgiving.

Strickland has spent the last 43 years in prison for a triple murder. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Strickland, 62, was wrongly convicted in 1979.

He has maintained since his conviction that he wasn't anywhere near the crime scene. A woman, who was wounded in the gunfire, recanted her story placing Strickland at the scene. For years she told people Strickland wasn't there. She died recently, making it impossible for her to testify at a hearing. Fingerprint evidence also suggests he wasn't at the crime scene.

Jackson County prosecutors exercised a new Missouri law allowing them to review past cases in which they believe someone was wrongly convicted of a crime. However, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office argued that Strickland was one of the killers and should remain in prison.

In a statement on twitter, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said, "Earlier this year, I signed SB 53, which created a judicial procedure for prosecuting attorneys to use, in cases like this one, where the prosecutor believes that there was a miscarriage of justice and a wrongful conviction was entered.

"The Court has made its decision, we respect the decision, and the Department of Corrections will proceed with Mr. Strickland's release immediately."

Judge Welsh said in his opinion, issued Tuesday that Strickland's conviction should immediately be set aside, and Strickland should immediately be released from custody.

In his opinion, Welsh said, "the Court's confidence in Strickland's conviction is so undermined it cannot stand."

Welsh noted that no physical evidence implicated Strickland in the homicide and that he was convicted solely on the testimony of an eyewitness, who later recanted her testimony.

A spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General's Office said, "In this case, we defended the rule of law and the decision that a jury of Mr. Strickland’s peers made after hearing all of the facts in the case. The Court has spoken, no further action will be taken in this matter.”

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The Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor's office officially filed a Notice of Dismissal, dismissing all criminal counts against Strickland at 11:50 a.m.

"To say we're extremely pleased and grateful is an understatement," Baker said in a statement. "This brings justice — finally — to a man who has tragically suffered so so greatly as a result of this wrongful conviction."

The Midwest Innocence Project has set up a GoFundMe page to support Strickland following his release. The fundraiser has already surpassed its initial $40,000 goal.

Strickland was released Tuesday afternoon.