KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Phelps County judge is reviewing a Kansas City man’s claim of innocence after the Missouri Supreme Court found favorable evidence for Keith Carnes had been withheld by Kansas City police.
Carnes has spent 18 years behind bars for a murder he says he did not commit.
Supporters of Carnes rallied Thursday outside the downtown courthouse as a judge more than 200 miles away in Rolla received documents and other evidence to review.
Carnes’ lawyers claim there’s been prosecutorial misconduct because Amy McGowan, the same prosecutor who wrongly convicted Ricky Kidd, also handled Carnes’ case. Kidd spent 23 years behind bars before being exonerated in 2019.
“Now we find, as the result of discovery we did in the earlier hearing, that essential critical evidence was withheld by police from both the prosecutor and the defense that would have exonerated Keith Carnes 18 years ago,” said Cliff Iliff, executive director of the Miracle of Innocence group.
Iliff claims Carnes was not the shooter, was not at the location where the murder happened, and says witnesses who testified against him lied. According to Iliff, those witnesses now have recanted their testimony and say they never saw Carnes at the crime scene and know that he is not the killer.
It may be days or weeks before the Phelps County judge completes his review of the case and the allegations of wrongdoing.
Supporters of Carnes are confident the judge will recommend to the state Supreme Court that Carnes be set free.