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12 years behind bars, Olin 'Pete' Coones says wrongful conviction will become distant memory

Olin Pete Coones
Posted at 7:09 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 20:10:31-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just one week ago, Olin 'Pete' Coones was not able to walk down the street. But after 12 years spent behind bars, he's a free man.

“I never thought I was coming home," Coones, 63, said. "I was sure hopeful. I prayed for it all of the time."

His prayers were finally answered on Nov. 6, when he was released from prison.

“I didn’t need a miracle, I just needed the truth," Coones said, "and I got a miracle of truth, and so, that’s a double blessing."

Coones was sentenced to life in prison for a murder that he did not commit. He had maintained that he was set up in a murder-suicide. In April 2008, Kathleen and Carl Schroll were found shot to death inside their home, and Kathleen had reportedly told her mother that Coones was in the home, threating to kill her and Carl.

Coones' attorney, Branden Bell, said that a call was never made.

RELATED: Wyandotte County DA dismisses murder charge against Pete Coones

“Right there sits the victims, my family, because they are the ones this was hardest on," Coones said. "Now, I’d like to take the credit that this was hardest on me, but when you’re locked up like that, you just have to get through it on your own."

Looking back on more than a decade of his life that was taken from him, Coones was separated from his family and nonexistent to his grandchildren.

“He asked me, 'Grandpa, why do they keep you in a fence?'" Coones said. "Because he had a dog that lived in a cage, and I told them, 'Nope, that’s it. Don’t ever mention me again. Don’t bring them back.'"

Each day spent in prison, Coones said, he had a routine that kept him going.

“I got up every morning, and I started looking for the reason to get up tomorrow morning," he said.

As tomorrow looks bright for Coones, looking back, he told 41 Action News that he wouldn't change a thing.

“I am so perfectly content with my decisions that I can sit here in this chair and tell you that I was offered a five-year plea deal, and I didn’t take it," Coones said. "I sure would have liked to went home, but I would have been a felon forever and had to say I did something I didn’t do."

With the present and future given back to him, and no hate in his heart, Coones said being wrongfully convicted will soon be a distant memory.

“A few years down the road, it’s just a speed bump win the rear view mirror," he said.

Coones plans to take things slow and spend much of his time with his family. He'll also get back to enjoying his hobbies, which include playing the drums and fishing.