‘It’s very rare’: Missouri Supreme Court takes interest in 17-year-old Kansas City murder case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Supreme Court has appointed what they call a “Special Master” or trial judge to review new evidence in a Kansas City murder case.

Keith Carnes has been in prison for 16 years, serving a sentence of life without parole for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Attorneys submitted a file of newly discovered evidence in September.

“It’s very rare, probably 95% of the cases like this, they deny them, and the cases they do this, it bodes pretty well for our chances,” attorney Kent Gipson said. “If we presented the case we have now to a new jury, he would be acquitted in 10 minutes because they don’t have a case.”

The case has been a tangled web for years with multiple denied appeals and new evidence, including lack of physical evidence to connect Carnes to the crime scene, forged documents with Carnes’ signature and recanted statements from key eyewitnesses.

“A lot of similarities as it relates to these wrongful conviction cases. We see there’s certain flags, red flags,” said Darryl Burton, co-founder of the Miracle of Innocence Project.

Burton teamed up with Lamonte McIntyre, whose high-profile case garnered national attention after he was exonerated in 2017. McIntyre spent 23 years in prison.

The duo created the Miracle of Innocence Project and currently work to support people who claim they are wrongfully convicted, emotionally and financially.

Like McIntyre, Burton also said he understands how it feels to be on the other side.

“I was in prison myself for almost 25 years as an innocent man at the Missouri State Penitentiary,” Burton said. “I try to help others come home. It’s lots of folks in there that shouldn’t be.”

Burton said the organization is currently working four cases, including Carnes, but has requests for hundreds of others.

“It could be someone you know and love. How would you feel? And it doesn’t matter if they been in 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, it’s never too late for justice,” Gipson said.

FOX4 reached out to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. A spokesperson said they cannot comment at this time.

Gipson said he expects a delay in any further correspondence from the Missouri Supreme Court because of the pandemic but predicted a hearing sometime in either late summer or fall.

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