Exonerees react to federal investigation of former KCK detective, Strickland hearing

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LEAWOOD, Kan. — A former Kansas City, Kansas police detective is under federal investigation for allegedly coercing false testimony to get convictions. In Jackson County, Missouri, 43 years later, a man will finally get a hearing for an alleged murder even the prosecutor says he didn’t commit.

The two cases with major breaking developments were frequent topics of discussion among guests at Friday’s Miracle of Innocence Gala.

After each losing 23 years of their lives behind bars in Missouri and Kansas for murders they didn’t commit.

Darryl Burton and Lamonte McIntyre co-founded an organization aimed at overturning other wrongful convictions and helping exonerees transition back to society.

“The reason we call ourselves the Miracle of Innocence is because it nearly takes a miracle to get out,” Chris Iliff, Miracle of Innocence Executive Director, said.

The difficulties of righting an alleged wrong, perhaps never more evident than in the case of Kevin Strickland.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office will go to court next month on Strickland’s behalf trying to free him after 43 years, facing a challenge from the Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

“That is just one the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen because you don’t find too many prosecutors advocating for the innocence of anyone,” Burton said of the system that’s keeping Strickland behind bars in the interim.

Thursday McIntyre saw something many wondered if they’d ever see, confirmation the detective tied to his arrest and building a false case for prosecutors is under federal investigation. He can’t speak specifically about Detective Roger Golubski because of pending litigation, but says more attention needs to be paid to the investigative process.

“If we start making officials accountable for the things they do I think you’ll see the number of wrongful convictions go down,” McIntyre said.

For the seven exonerees present Friday night, it was a time to celebrate what they call positive steps in what could be two landmark cases. But they say there’s much more work to be done in creating a fair legal system for everyone.

Organizers hoped to raise $600,000 at the gala for continued work overturning wrongful convictions and helping exonerees.

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