Court awards $1.5M to Kansas man wrongfully convicted
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man awarded more than $1.5 million on Monday after spending 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit plans to continue his fight against those responsible for his nightmare, his attorney said.
In addition to the monetary compensation, Lamonte McIntyre of Kansas City, Kansas, also received on Monday a certificate of innocence from Shawnee County District Judge Teresa L. Watson as part of a resolution of a mistaken-conviction lawsuit McIntyre filed last year.
“Today, Lamonte McIntyre has been declared, finally and conclusively, a completely innocent man,” his attorney, Cheryl Pilate said in an emailed statement. “That long-overdue recognition, along with the statutory payment and other benefits, will help lighten a bit the heavy load he has carried. Lamonte is grateful for the benefits of the compensation statute, but he knows his fight for justice is far from over.”
McIntyre was 17 in 1994 when he was arrested for the killings of 21-year-old Doniel Quinn and 34-year-old Donald Ewing, even though no physical evidence or motive tied him to the crimes.
McIntyre received two life sentences in their deaths, but he was freed in 2017 after a local prosecutor asked the court to vacate his convictions and to drop all charges, calling his case an example of “manifest injustice.”
Documents made public during an 8-year effort to exonerate Lamonte McIntyre allege the homicide detective on the case used his power to prey for decades on African-American women, including McIntyre’s mother. They also accuse the prosecutor of intimidating witnesses who told her McIntyre was not the killer. And they say the presiding judge had a romantic relationship with the prosecutor before the trial that neither disclosed at the time.
McIntyre’s attorney said on Monday that the family will continue with their separate federal lawsuit against the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, and the individual officers who they contend are responsible for their 23-year nightmare.
“The individuals involved twisted the justice system to serve their own ends, not the needs of the community or the goal of truth-finding,” Pilate said. “No justice was served by their actions, and a full accounting of their wrongful conduct must occur.”
The McIntyre’s case was one of several that prompted the law requiring the state to compensate victims of wrongful convictions. Schmidt, a Republican, had received bipartisan criticism for resisting McIntyre’s compensation claim while agreeing to two others.
“We are committed to faithfully administering the state’s mistaken-conviction law as the legislature wrote it,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday in a news release. “In this case, our office worked diligently to obtain and review all available evidence, including evidence identified but not provided in the earlier judicial proceedings.”
Schmidt said his office was ultimately able to resolve all issues, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements and agree to this outcome so McIntyre can receive the benefits to which he is entitled.
Under the statute, McIntyre will receive $65,000 for each of the 23 years he wrongly spent in prison, among other benefits. The court also ordered that records of his conviction and DNA profile be expunged.
If McIntyre prevails in his separate civil lawsuit against the Unified Government and the others involved in his unjust prosecution, he would have to repay Kansas for the money he was awarded under the wrongful compensation statute, his attorney noted.
This is the third case in Kansas in which compensation has been granted since the 2018 wrongful-conviction law was enacted.
Kansas agreed to pay $1.1 million to Richard Jones, of Kansas City, Kansas, who spent 17 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a 2000 robbery that he says was committed by someone who looks just like him. The state agreed to pay $1.03 million to Floyd Bledsoe, who spent nearly 16 years behind bars for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl northeast of Topeka, a crime that his brother confessed to in a suicide note.
Three other cases remain pending in various stages of litigation, the attorney general’s office said.