JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has filed a motion to free Kevin Strickland from a Missouri prison.
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.
Since then, a bipartisan group of more than a dozen Missouri lawmakers have also signed a letter to Gov. Mike Parson asking him to pardon Strickland.
But months later, the Republican governor has not granted a pardon yet.
Now Peters Baker is taking action.
Most of us have heard the famous quotation that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Kevin Strickland stands as our own example of what happens when a system set to be just, just gets it terribly wrong.
The Missouri General Assembly and Gov. Parson deserve credit for creating a new legal avenue for a local prosecutor to seek relief. Making it possible for an officer of the court to stand before a judge and argue to correct a grave wrong is a system of justice we can all stand behind.
We look forward to presenting our evidence in the same courtroom where Mr. Strickland was convicted.Statement from Jean Peters Baker
The passing of Senate Bill 53 allowed for prosecutors to go before judges and have convictions reversed. The law went into effect on Aug. 28.
Peters Baker thanked Parson for the passing of the bill and said she’s ready to present the evidence to free Strickland after 43 years.
“He’s been served a horrific injustice, and it’s a tragedy of our system that we have key players in our system who won’t look at the evidence or won’t consider the possibility that our system made an error,” said Robert Hoffman, Strickland’s attorney.
Hoffman is excited for the possibilities and said they were anticipating the announcement.
“We think it’s obviously the right thing,” Hoffman said. “It’s hard to imagine wanting a system of justice that incarcerates someone wrongly for 43 years.”
The hearing is set for Sept. 2.
“We have a high level of confidence that the court will see it the same way that we do and that he will vacate the judgment,” Hoffman said.