Emergency motion filed in Kevin Strickland case a day before hearing that could free him

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Attorney General filed emergency motions asking a judge to cancel an evidentiary hearing just hours before it was scheduled to take place.

The hearing involves Kevin Strickland, a man who has been in prison for more than 40 years. Supporters that believe he was wrongly convicted include Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

The motion, filed by AG Eric Schmitt on Tuesday, says Thursday’s hearing should be canceled. The motion claims the judge overseeing the case violated the law when he denied Schmitt’s request to attend Thursday’s hearing. Schmitt argues that according to the law, he has the right to attend the hearing.

The hearing in question was scheduled after Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker filed a motion to free Strickland from prison. She was able to file the motion because of the passing of Senate Bill 53. The law went into effect on Aug. 28, and allows prosecutors to go before judges and have convictions reversed.

Strickland was arrested when he was 18 for a 1978 Kansas City triple homicide and later convicted. But in 2009, the key witness recanted her testimony, saying she made a mistake.

Two other men who admitted to the crime also say Strickland is innocent. They have both since been released, but Strickland is serving life in prison on capital murder charges. 

Earlier this year, Peters Baker said Strickland was wrongfully convicted and called for his release.

Attorney General Schmitt’s office has argued in a court motion that Strickland is guilty. Gov. Mike Parson, who could pardon Strickland, has said he’s not convinced that Strickland is innocent.

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