New Missouri law could help free Blue Springs man in prison for wife’s 1990 death

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.– A new law could make it easier for prosecutors to free innocent prisoners.

The Missouri Senate Bill 53 signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson will allow prosecutors to go before a judge and have convictions of people wrongly imprisoned reversed.

While cases like Kevin Strickland are being highlighted, this new law could also affect Ken Middleton.

“My father is going to be 77-years old on August 11 and it baffles my mind that for 16 years. He has languished in prison, over a jurisdictional defect,” Cliff Middleton said. “It’s been a long 30 years.”

Cliff Middleton has worked endlessly to get his father out of prison and prove his innocence.

Ken’s wife, Kathy Middleton died from a gunshot wound in their Blue Springs home in 1990.

Ken was sentenced to life without parole plus 200 years for her death, a murder he maintains he did not commit.

“The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office offered my dad an Alford plea. Walk Free! There isn’t a guilty man in prison that would turn that down, but my father did!,” Middleton said. “He would not take it because he is innocent. How much integrity is it in that?”

In 2005, the trial judge, Edith Messina, who is now advisor to Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, agreed, overturning his conviction due to ineffective council, but the appeal was dismissed by the Western District Court of Appeals due to a court-related issue.

Middleton has sat waiting for another day in court and for someone to review his case ever since.

“We’ve got a situation where the trial judge found Mr. Middleton did not receive a fair trial. That’s never been overturned and never been challenge and in light of the language in new law, I believe Mrs. Peters-Baker has an ethical duty to file this motion and let a judge decide whether Ken Middleton deserves a new trial,” said Middleton’s attorney, Kent Gipson.

Something the Gipson and Middleton’s son says they have tried multiple times to have the case retried, filing appeals in both state and federal courts.

Gipson says it has been impossible to get another court to review the case and undo the damage of previous attorneys.

“When you have evidence that we have and a Prosecutor’s office that disregards it, that’s comfortable with a jurisdictional defect? That’s not how this justice system is supposed to work. Senate Bill 53 is there to correct issues like that,” Middleton said. “I’ve watched him age. He was younger than I was when he went to prison. He was 43-years old. My kids have never seen their grandfather outside of the prison visiting room.”

In a statement to FOX4, a spokesperson for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office says:

“We have reviewed this case several times. But, as we have explained to his attorney, we always stand ready to review new and credible evidence, something that was not known at the time of trial.”

Middleton’s family and attorney say they are hoping someone will do the same thing and hope for a second chance in court.

“The big hoop is to get the prosecutor to file it. I can’t file it. She’s got to do it. The language is clear, if she has information Mr. Middleton might be innocent, or might have been wrongfully convicted, she should file this motion,” Gipson said. “It’s difficult to get a prosecutor to admit their office convicted an innocent man and they have been in denial about this for years and years and years.”

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