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Jackson County judge continues review of Kevin Strickland case

Kevin Strickland
Posted at 3:54 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 18:31:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County judge said Monday that more time is needed as he reviews evidence in a case that could lead to Kevin Strickland’s release from jail.

Judge Kevin Harrell will issue his decision on motions filed in the case on Friday at 8:15 a.m.

The Missouri Attorney General's office attorneys argue that Judge Kevin Harrell and every Jackson County circuit court judge should be recused from the case because of what they call impropriety on Presiding Judge Dale Youngs' part.

They brought up emails that Deputy Prosecutor Dan Nelson sent to Youngs starting in March, letting him know about the Strickland case and asking for an endorsement when Strickland would file a petition asking for a judge to exonerate him.

Youngs gave a statement saying he agrees Strickland is innocent based on everything he's reviewed.

The statement was put into a letter filed by Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. An embargoed copy of the letter was sent to a New York Times reporter.

Strickland filed his petition May 10, with Peters Baker's office's support.

The AG's office told Judge Harrell that Young's statement was given to multiple people and it was "traded on this court's credibility."

Strickland's attorneys argued that Youngs was only speaking for himself and that the entire 16th circuit court did not meet to discuss Young's statement.

"The role of the presiding judge is not to decide substantive matters of other judges. I don't think it matters at all," Robert Hoffman said, one of Strickland's attorneys.

The AG's office also argues these matters should be settled in civil court, not criminal court.

Earlier this month, a Missouri appeals court ruled that the Missouri Attorney General’s office needed more time to review a filing made by Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker’s office that would vacate the triple murder sentence against Strickland.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Harrell had previously set Monday’s hearing for arguments from both the AG and Jackson County prosecutor’s office.

Harrell gave both sides until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file any proposed orders.

The parties will reconvene on Friday morning, Sept. 17, where the judge could ultimately set a date to hear evidence in the case to vacate Strickland’s 1979 murder conviction.

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