KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man who claims he was wrongly convicted of a triple murder more than 40 years ago must wait another two weeks before learning when he will get to present his case for freedom.
Some say Kevin Strickland’s appeal is getting bogged down by the judicial process.
A jury convicted Strickland of a triple homicide back in 1978. But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker believes there’s clear and convincing evidence that Strickland is innocent. She’s trying to use a new state law, which is supposed to provide an expedited hearing, to set him free.
That hearing was supposed to happen Thursday morning, but Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has intervened in the case, arguing that Strickland is guilty and needs to remain behind bars.
“This is disappointing, that this hearing wasn’t able to happen today,” Peters Baker said Thursday. “But I think the point that needs to be made is that this hearing will happen. There is going to be a hearing. Kevin Strickland will receive his day in court.”
The Attorney General’s Office wants Strickland’s attempt to overturn his conviction moved out of Jackson County.
That will require another hearing, scheduled for Sept. 13, before Strickland gets to present his case for freedom.
“It’s extremely frustrating for us,” said Kenneth Nixon, chair of the National Organization of Exonerees. Several members of the group traveled from Michigan to support Strickland in court Thursday.
“It’s hurtful,” Nixon said. “People tend to forget that there’s lives at the end of this. There’s a human being on the other side of what’s happening today. Someone is sitting in a cell wrongly and the process is being slowed because of procedural issues. That’s frustrating. It’s horribly frustrating.”
The Attorney General’s Office said all Jackson County judges should disqualify themselves from hearing Strickland’s case because Peters Baker wrote that Jackson County’s presiding judge already has agreed that Strickland’s conviction should be overturned.
After spending more than four decades behind bars, members of the National Organization of Exonerees said the next two weeks will be far more stressful for Strickland than being originally incarcerated in prison.