KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri man is seeking release from prison, saying he is innocent of a murder he was convicted of more than two decades ago as a teenager.
The Midwest Innocence Project, in connection with the MacArthur Justice Center, filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.
Lawyers representing Michael Politte said the main piece of evidence used by the state to convince the jury of Politte’s guilt in the murder of his mother — the presence of gasoline on his shoes in a fire ruled intentionally set — has since been proven false.
The lawyers say (and allege the state agrees) the gasoline was mistaken for a solvent used to make the tennis shoes.
Politte questions why he’s had to serve more than 20 years in prison.
“How did I end up in prison? Because this judicial system is overseen by flawed human beings who do not want to admit they got anything wrong,” Politte wrote in a press release. “They do not want to admit that they wrongfully convicted a 14-year-old for murdering his own mother.”
Lawyers representing Politte say he turned down a plea deal four years after his arrest that would have allowed him a sooner release from prison in exchange for admitting guilt. It was a deal he couldn’t take.
The release from the two organizations said that Politte’s family, including his two sisters, have always maintained his innocence.
“Michael and his sisters have never been able to grieve their mother because they have been fighting for Michael’s freedom ever since the say she died,” Midwest Innocence Project attorney Rachel Wester said in the release. “It is far past time for justice for Rita Politte, for Michael and for his family.”
The case stems from the December 1998 death of Rita Politte, who was found murdered in her mobile home in in a small town in Washington County, Missouri, in the southeastern side of the state.
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.