A Missouri man who has spent more than four decades in prison for a triple homicide walked out of prison a free man Tuesday after a decide exonerated him hours earlier.  

The convictions in opposition to Kevin Strickland, 62, have been vacated following a three-day court docket listening to in which a Jackson County prosecutor stated that proof used to convict him in 1979 was recanted or disproven. 

“I’m still in disbelief,” Strickland, sitting in a wheelchair, stated moments after being launched from prison. “Thank you (to the judge) for reviewing all the no evidence against me to begin with. I really appreciate him taking his time to listen and understand what really happened in 1978 and how I was an easy mark and the police took advantage of me.”

“To say we’re extremely pleased and grateful is an understatement,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker stated. “This brings justice — finally — to a man who has tragically suffered so so greatly as a result of this wrongful conviction.”

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Kevin Strickland testifies during a court hearing. He walked out of prison a free man Tuesday after more than 40 years following a ruling that exonerated him of a 1978 triple murder. 

Kevin Strickland testifies throughout a court docket listening to. He walked out of prison a free man Tuesday after more than 40 years following a ruling that exonerated him of a 1978 triple homicide. 
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Strickland was seen leaving a prison Tuesday afternoon and talking with legal professionals outdoors the ability. 

He has maintained his innocence through the years, saying he was house watching tv when the killings of Larry Ingram, 21; John Walker, 20; and Sherrie Black, 22, occurred in Kansas City. He was 18 on the time. 

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas praised the ruling and stated Strickland shall be welcomed again to town. 

“We welcome Kevin Strickland back to Kansas City,” he tweeted. “Our community owes him more than we can imagine and we commit to doing all we can to support him.”

Cynthia Douglas, the witness who claimed to have seen Strickland when she survived the April 25, 1978 assault, recognized him as one of four males who shot the victims throughout his two trials.

The first trial ended in a hung jury when the one Black juror voted to acquit. 

The four suspects tied up the four victims and ransacked a house they have been in earlier than three of the victims have been killed execution-style. Douglas, who was Walker’s girlfriend, was shot and performed lifeless. 

She later stated she was pressured into figuring out Strickland by investigators and tried for years to inform political and authorized specialists that she recognized the incorrect individual. She died in 2015. 

Strickland stated he has no arduous emotions towards Douglas and appreciated her efforts to recant her identification of him as one of the assailants.

“I would just like to tell her thank you,” he stated. 

A mugshot of Kevin Strickland

A mugshot of Kevin Strickland
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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt fought efforts to free Strickland, believing he’s responsible of the slayings. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, denied Strickland’s requests for clemency. During the listening to, legal professionals for Schmitt’s workplace argued that any paper path that proved Douglas tried recanting her testimony was primarily based on “hearsay, upon hearsay, upon hearsay,”

Strickland’s case turned the main focus of a Kansas City Star investigation in which dozens of witnesses have been interviewed, together with two males who stated Strickland was not with them and two different accomplices throughout the killings. Jackson County prosecutors started reviewing the case in November 2020. 

Peters Baker used a brand new state legislation to hunt an evidentiary listening to in Jackson County, the place Strickland was convicted. The legislation permits native prosecutors to problem convictions in the event that they imagine the defendant didn’t commit the crime. It was the primary time — and thus far the one time — {that a} prosecutor has used the legislation to battle a earlier conviction.

Strickland won’t obtain a dime from Missouri, which has strict compensation legal guidelines for wrongful convictions. An on-line fundraiser arrange by Strickland’s attorneys on the Midwest Innocence Project has raised practically $56,000. 

Kevin Strickland

Kevin Strickland
(GoFundMe)

Before he left prison, Strickland stated the correctional officers have been good and advised him to not come again. 

“I shouldn’t have been here in the first place,” he stated. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.