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Missouri man released from prison after 43 years

After spending more than 43 behind bars, a man convicted of killing three people back in the late 70s, is now a free man.

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 10:04 AM

(CAMERON, Mo.) After spending more than 43 behind bars, a man convicted of killing three people back in the late 70s, is now a free man.

On Tuesday, a judge ruled that 62-year-old Kevin Strickland's conviction should be set aside and released from custody immediately.
Kevin Strickland was just 18-years-old when he was accused of participating in the murder of three people in Jackson County in 1978.
Now after more than 40 years behind bars, he's free and didn't think this day would ever come.

"I just couldn't believe what I was hearing," Strickland said.

A judge ruled Tuesday Strickland's conviction was no good and should be set aside.

Strickland is now 62-years-old, in a wheelchair and thankful to be out.

"I can't begin to say what all I'm thankful for but I guess I have to begin with these attorneys, because without them, I wouldn't be sitting here. You wouldn't be sitting here. I'm thankful for God, walking me through this, 43 years protecting me. He let me get a little scuffed up along the way. I guess those were learning lessons, learning lumps. And, uh, just thankful to have, aside for this wheelchair, my health, you know, and not get any more victimized in that prison system then I was," Strickland said.

At a loss of how to describe what it's like to be free after all this time.

"It's a, it's a lot. It's a lot. I mean, I think I've created some emotions that you all don't know about yet, yet. Um, had to put a name on them. I've interacted a bunch happy, joy, sorrow, fear, you know, all those, I'm trying to figure out how to put them together,” Strickland said.

Stickland's consistently said he was innocent and at home the night of the murders.

Over the years, the two other men convicted with him, the only eyewitness and current Jackson county prosecutor, told the courts they had the wrong man.

But it took 43 years for someone to get it right.

"It's way to easy to put someone in prison and way too hard to get them out when the system's made a mistake,” Robert Hoffman, Strickland's lawyer said.

His lawyers say that needs to change.

"It does show just how incredibly difficult this process is. Even when the prosecutor is on your side, it took months and months for Mr. Strickland to come home. And he's still going to come home to a system that will not provide him any compensation for the 43 years that he's lost. That's not justice,” Tricia Bushnell, Strickland's lawyer said.

Strickland says he hopes in the future he can use his experience to help fix the system.

"If I could ever get involved with some type of speaking, concerning legislation, something. We would like to get some things changed,” Strickland said.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt fought hard against the Jackson county prosecutor's office to keep Strickland in prison and Governor Mike Parson denied clemency requests.

The governor tweeted that he respects the court's decision and that he signed into law the framework that made it possible for Strickland to go free.

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It was a pleasant start to the weekend with sunny skies and temperatures reaching the mid 60s. A cold front moving through the area will bring us down into the 30s for lows overnight with gusty winds up to 20 mph. This will keep our highs in the 50s on Sunday under mostly sunny skies with mild winds from the southwest. Temperatures will quickly start to warm up again on Monday with highs in the mid 60s. Rain chances look to stay minimal into next week. Temperatures are forecasted to stay above average for the first day of December on Wednesday.
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