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Kevin Strickland should be pardoned, bipartisan coalition of lawmakers tell Gov. Parson

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on Gov. Mike Parson to pardon a man currently serving a life sentence for murder after new details about the case have come to light.

Lawmakers from both chambers signed on to a letter asking for further review and a pardon in the case of Kevin Strickland, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a 1978 triple homicide. The case largely hinged on testimony from a witness who named Strickland but later recanted her testimony. Two other men who pleaded guilty to their involvement in the killings also said Strickland was innocent. 

Strickland has received support from the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in his petition for freedom, but the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear the case last week. 

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The request was led by Rep. Andrew McDaniel, chairman of the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee. Sen. Lauren Arthur joined 11 House members on Monday’s letter. 

“Recent evidence has shown that Mr. Strickland was falsely accused for crimes he did not commit,” the letter read. “The following representatives and senators would like to officially request that a review of his case be done by your office and an official pardon be issued to Mr. Kevin Strickland due to the evidence that has come forth proving his innocence.”

House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade also called on Parson to take action. The state’s chief executive granted 36 pardons last week, but Strickland was not among them. 

“Kevin Strickland should have never been in jail and there’s not a single reason for him to still be there,” Quade said. “This is beyond outrageous that, even though everybody agrees Mr. Strickland is innocent, Gov. Parson is dragging his feet in pardoning him.”

Kevin Strickland
Lawmakers are calling on Gov. Mike Parson to pardon Strickland after new evidence in his case came to light. (PROVIDED/MIDWEST INNOCENCE PROJECT)

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, and members of the team that originally convicted him have also called for his release. The case has seen national attention over the past week. 

“The truth of Mr. Strickland’s innocence was known over 42 years ago,” Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP attorney Bob Hoffman, who also represents Strickland, said in a statement. “Strickland’s case is yet one more example of how long and difficult it is to overturn a wrongful conviction. It shouldn’t be this hard.”

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Photos courtesy of Midwest Innocence Project.