KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A retired Missouri judge appointed to oversee the case that could lead to the exoneration of Kevin Strickland ruled Thursday that the case can proceed as scheduled.
Judge James E. Welsh said during a motions hearing on Thursday that prosecutors could present their arguments in support of exonerating Strickland’s 1979 triple murder conviction on Monday, Nov. 8.
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker launched the effort earlier this year after her office became convinced of Strickland’s innocence.
That perspective is not shared by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who has said he remains convinced Strickland is guilty.
Thursday's motions hearing led to discussions about what is admissible or improper evidence.
The AG's office claimed that prosecutors must be able to provide and prove all reliable evidence that is pertinent to the case.
They also argued that Strickland was given a fair and constitutional trial over 40 years ago. Without clear and convincing evidence since, no other proceedings after a full trial will ever be as reliable as the first.
The Jackson County District Attorney's Office said that sometimes without certain evidences meeting the "legal" requirements, they do not make it into the trial. Chip Robertson with the office claimed the judge should be able to look at all evidence before making a decision, and the DA's office will not object to consider any and all evidence the judge would like to consider.
Strickland's lawyer added waiting any longer on evidence and delaying the process would only hurt the case as witnesses die and evidence fades.
The AG's office also asked the judge to omit the affidavits of Ron Richardson and Kenneth Murray, people who testified during the initial trial. They claimed Richardson lied under oath and Murray stated he does not remember signing off on an affidavit.
Strickland's lawyer argued both are critical to the case and Murray's affidavit in question was notarized.
The judge overruled the motion to remove Richardson and Murray's affidavits. He also stated any and all evidence will be heard and tested before his final decision.
The AG's office made a final request to change the caption of the trial to "Strickland and Jean Peters Baker vs. State of Missouri" and claimed the DA does not represent the State's interest.
Both the DA's office as well as Strickland's attorney claimed the state is represented by the DA and the AG's office is the party, according to statue, that may intervene.
Monday's trial will begin at 10am.