GOP House leader asks Parson to pardon Kansas City inmate

June 4, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Republican House member said Friday he and other state lawmakers will ask Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to pardon Kevin Strickland, who has spent more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder that prosecutors now say he did not commit.

Rep. Andrew McDaniel of Deering, chairman of the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee, said three other Republican and five Democratic legislators plan to join him in signing a letter asking for a pardon for Strickland, The Kansas City Star reported.

“Why’s he still in there?” he said. “I’m pretty strong on keeping people locked up that did crimes but if there’s somebody that’s in there that’s innocent, just let him out.”

Strickland has maintained his innocence since he was arrested and convicted in a 1978 triple murder in Kansas City.

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Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has called for his release. Federal prosecutors in the Western District of Missouri, Jackson County’s presiding judge, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and members of the team that convicted Strickland four decades ago also have said he deserves to be exonerated.

Strickland’s name was not on a list of 36 pardons Parson issued this week and the Missouri Supreme Court this week declined to hear his petition for freedom. The court did not give a reason for its decision.

A law passed this session that awaits Parson’s signature would give local prosecutors the power to right wrongful convictions themselves. Baker said Thursday that if the governor signs the bill, she’ll file a motion on the first day it is allowed to get Strickland released.

The Star reported in September that two men who pleaded guilty in the killings for decades swore Strickland was not with them and two other accomplices during the shooting. The only eyewitness also recanted and wanted Strickland released.