KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Lamonte McIntyre, 41, a man convicted in 1994 of killing two men, was set free from prison on Friday after spending 23 years behind bars. The Midwest Innocent Project took McIntyre’s case, believing he was wrongly convicted due to coercion by police. During the hearing this week to determine whether he should be set free, receive a new trial, or return to prison, witnesses took the stand to recant the testimony they gave more than two decades ago when McIntyre was 17-years-old.
On Friday, when McIntyre was released and greeted by family and friends, some of those witnesses were there. A cousin of the victims who testified against him at his original trial apologized to him.
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
He reached out to hug her.
“I don’t have no ill-will against you,” he told her. “It’s over with. I’m sorry this stuff happened to you.”
Scroll down to the bottom of the story to see the brief conversation between the two, captured during FOX 4 Robert Townsend’s Facebook Live report.
A court convicted McIntyre, 41, of killing Donald Ewing, 34, and Doniel Quinn, 21, in April of 1994. Both men were shot to death as they sat inside a car.
Attorneys for the Midwest Innocence Project say they have spent seven years investigating McIntyre’s case. The unusual hearing took place at the Wyandotte County Courthouse. A retired chief judge from Hays, Kan., heard the evidence.
“God is good. I always kept faith. I knew God would take me and surround me with good people and he did that,” McIntyre said.
During this hearing, witnesses recanted their testimony against McIntyre, claiming that they lied under pressure from KCK police to falsely identify him as the murderer. On Thursday morning a relative of the victims’ testified that she had notified the prosecutor that a witness told her she was lying, but nothing was done about it.
This hearing also raised questions about the actions of a KCK police detective, who’s now retired, and the prosecutor of the case.
“I feel like I wasn’t going crazy after all,” he said. “I feel this is due.”
He says he wants justice for anyone who acted improperly during his investigation, trial and conviction.
“Justice. Same thing they wanted for me. Just justice, you know? Whatever needs to happen to make sure that he’s held accountable for the things he did. That’s what we need,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre said he wanted to take a bath and just chill, relax and try to eat something on his first night of freedom. With humor, he said it has been 23 years since he had a good meal.
“On the inside I’m bubblin’ over. I feel alive. I feel emotional because it’s been a long time coming. I seen ’em cry and hurt over this one experience, so to see it come to fruition is pretty amazing,” McIntyre told FOX 4’s Robert Townsend.
When asked what he was going to do with his life he joked that he’d become a Youtube star or something.
“This is different. I’m looking forward to carrying on the rest of my life and keep going,” he said.
He said the handcuffs weren’t coming off fast enough on Friday, though.
In a statement released Friday, Wyandotte County’s district attorney said that based on new evidence and his office’s own investigation, he believes the jury might have found McIntyre ‘not guilty’ 23 years ago.
“The question is merely whether the unanimous jury verdict in 1994 might have been different if the information presented to my office was available for consideration during their deliberation. It is incumbent upon my office, as ministers of justice to this community, to ensure that the process we employ to bring about that justice is done in such a way that due process is provided to all accused, no matter how many years have passed,” said Mark Dupree, Sr., Wyandotte County district attorney.