biographical data

Kevin Strickland biography: 13 things about Kansas City, Missouri exoneree

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Kevin B. Strickland is an African-American man from Kansas City, Missouri, United States. He served the longest prison time wrongfully convicted in Missouri’s history and his exoneration was not based on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence.

Strickland did not qualify for compensation from Missouri because the law allows it only if an exoneration is based on DNA evidence. Here are 13 more things about him:

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  1. He and his fellow Kansas City resident Cynthia “Cindy” Douglas had known each other since at least 1976. She has a sister named Cookie Douglas.
  2. On April 25, 1978, he was watching television at home when Sherrie Black, then 22, Larry Ingram, then 21, John Walker, then 20, and Cindy, then 20, were shot in Ingram’s home in Kansas City. Cindy survived while the other three died. That day, Cindy told police Vincent Bell, then 21, and Kilm Adkins, then 19, were two of the four perpetrators. Bell was his childhood friend and neighbor.
  3. On April 26, 1978, he and a male friend visited Bell’s mother’s home. Later that day, he was arrested. Cindy identified him as being at the scene after it was suggested to her that his hair matched her description of the shooter. He had no convictions prior to his arrest on that day.
  4. In April 1979, an all-white jury found him guilty of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the chance of parole for 50 years. On April 30, 1979, Adkins took an Alford plea and was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder. On August 13, 1979, while he was pursuing his direct appeal, Bell pled guilty to three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Ingram, Walker and Black, named Adkins, T.A. and P.H. as the other three perpetrators. Later that year, Cindy informed her family that she mistakenly identified him as one of the four perpetrators involved in the crimes.
  5. In 1980, he tried to appeal but it was dismissed by Supreme Court of Missouri. Since 1981, Adkins has attested to his innocence. Both Bell and Adkins made clear that he was not involved in the crimes on April 25, 1978, which T.A. also told a fellow inmate while incarcerated in Freemont Correctional Facility in Colorado, USA on an unrelated case in the early 1990s.
  6. While he was in prison, Cindy repeatedly tried to tell political and legal experts that she had falsely pinned the murders on him. On February 4, 2009, she emailed the Midwest Innocence Project, claiming that in 1978,  police told her, “Just pick Strickland out of the lineup and we’ll be done.”
  7. In 2011, his father died.
  8. Cindy died in 2015. Before her death, she told her mother, her sister Cookie and her daughter Sherri Jordan that she made a mistake when she identified him as a participant in the crime on April 25, 1978.
  9. Cindy wished to help him prove his innocence, her former husband confirmed in an affidavit in November 2016 and a sworn statement in October 2020.
  10. He retained counsel through the Midwest Innocence Project, which contacted the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2020. That year, the Jackson County Prosecutor and the Kansas City Police Department confirmed that his fingerprints did not match the fingerprints from the shotgun used to shoot Black, Ingram, Walker and Cindy on April 25, 1978.
  11. On May 10, 2021, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker published a letter saying she believed he was innocent and should be released from jail. In June 2021, the Supreme Court of Missouri denied a petition to release him. In August 2021, 57th Missouri governor Michael Lynn “Mike” Parson refused to pardon him.
  12. On June 2, 2021, Midwest Innocence Project executive director Tricia Rojo Bushnell started a GoFundMe fundraiser was started for him with the goal of raising $750,000 for him. On November 25, 2021, it reached almost $1 million.
  13. He was 62 years old when retired Missouri Court of Appeals Judge James Welsh exonerated him and ordered his release on November 23, 2021.
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