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Keith Carnes to be set free after Jean Peters Baker declines to retry case

Keith Carnes 1_2022.jpg
Posted at 3:31 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 17:48:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Keith Carnes, a Kansas City, Missouri, man will be freed after serving nearly two decades in prison.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker's Office said they are dismissing charges against Carnes because of insufficient evidence to retry the case on Friday.

The decision comes three days after the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order saying Carnes "be released 30 days from the date of this order unless the state elects to retry him in relation to the offenses for which he was convicted."

Peters Baker's office released a lengthy statement Friday afternoon detailing their decision.

"This dismissal is without prejudice and there is no statute of limitations for murder. Because Carnes is speaking to news media, we would ask that he speak with law enforcement about what he knows. Witnesses stated that a second culprit was present at Mr. White’s murder. We’d like to know that person’s identity. This case remains under investigation. We will continue to fight for justice for Mr. White and this community. 

Our office met Friday with the family of Larry White. His sister, Juanita White, thanked Jackson County for seeking justice on her family's behalf. For her health, she said she will leave anything further to God, although her family believes that Carnes was one of the men who killed her brother. Larry White's family is planning a celebration of their deceased brother's birthday next week."

Chief Justice Paul Wilson wrote in the order Carnes had successfully demonstrated that state prosecutors "failed to disclose material evidence" in a 2003 murder case that led to his life sentence.

Carnes has been serving time at South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri, about 250 miles from Kansas City for the murder of Larry White. It happened near East 29th Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City.

Carnes has insisted he is innocent.

The break in the case came in late 2020 when the Missouri Supreme Court appointed a special master to narrowly focus on the factual findings of the case.

Judge and Special Master William Hickle, who presided over a September hearing in which two witnesses recanted as part of the special master's review, which was released in January 2022, determined that witnesses who eventually said that Carnes was not the killer were credible.

At the time of the Special Master’s review, the Missouri Supreme Court could have released Carnes following a motion from his attorneys, but instead said it would expedite proceedings in the case.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office defended the state in the post-conviction hearings and appeals, preventing his release.

As for when Carnes can expect to be released, a Missouri Department of Corrections spokesperson says that has yet to be determined.

“We are waiting for a court order directing the department to release Mr. Carnes. We don't know when that might happen," the spokesperson said.

Carnes' mother, Eve Moffatt, told KSHB 41 News that she is hoping the he is released Friday.

"I'm so, so happy!" Moffatt said. "I just feel fantastic! I just - wow."

Moffatt said that she felt bubbly after the news of prosecutors dismissing the charges against her son. When asked about what she will do when she sees her son as a free man for the first time in 18 years, Moffatt said she is just going to hold him.

"I'm going to cup his face in my hands and just tell him I love him," Moffatt said. "I love him and I believed him all these years, I believed in him."

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