Mr Strickland served 43 years in prison for a triple murder he was convicted of in 1979. On Tuesday, a judge threw that conviction out, and Mr Strickland was immediately released.
But according to the Midwest Innocence Project, that’s as much as the state of Missouri is willing to do for him.
Unlike 36 other states and Washington, DC, Missouri provides no financial compensation to wrongfully convicted people, unless they were exonerated by DNA evidence. And although Mr Strickland was exonerated, DNA was not involved.
As a result, Mr Strickland is free but has little to no financial foundation to start his new life. To help him, the Midwest Innocence Project has started a GoFundMe.
“Thank you all for your support!” the page says. “All funds go directly to Mr Strickland, who the state of Missouri won’t provide a dime to for the 43 years they stole from him.”
In the GoFundMe, the Project explains why it believes financial support is so important for exonerees.
“Deprived for years of family and friends and the ability to establish oneself professionally, the nightmare does not end upon release,” the page says. “With no money, housing, transportation, health services or insurance, and a criminal record that is rarely cleared despite innocence, the punishment lingers long after innocence has been proven.”
The Independent has reached out to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for comment.
Mr Strickland was 19 when he was convicted. He is now 62 years old. His wrongful conviction was the longest in Missouri’s history, and one of the longest in the history of the United States.
Almost half a century ago, he was convicted of the fatal shootings of Larry Ingram, John Walker, and Sherrie Black during a 1978 home invasion in Kansas City. Mr Strickland was 18 at the time of the murders, and has always insisted he was at home watching television when they occurred.
At an evidentiary hearing last week, prosecutors said no physical evidence linked Mr Strickland to the scene of the crime, and the conviction was largely based on the word of one eyewitness, Cynthia Douglas, who tried multiple times to recant her testimony.
Lawyers for the Missouri Attorney General’s office, who argued to uphold the conviction, said there was no solid documentation of Ms Douglas’ attempts to recant, calling the story “hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay”.
In the end, the judge sided with Mr Strickland.
“Under these unique circumstances, the Court’s confidence in Strickland’s conviction is so undermined that it cannot stand, and the judgment of conviction must be set aside,” Judge James Welsh wrote.
As soon as he left prison, Mr Strickland says, the first stop he made was to visit the grave of his mother, who died just before he was released.
“To know my mother was underneath that dirt and I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit with her in the last years,” Mr Strickland told CNN. “I revisited those tears that I did when they told me I was guilty of a crime I didn’t commit.”
Source Link Kevin Strickland relies on GoFundMe because Missouri won’t compensate him for 43 years in prison, his supporters say