A Kansas City police commissioner and former prosecutor each say the wrong man is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole, but no one is freeing him from prison.
Two decades ago, Ricky Kidd was arrested and convicted of the murders of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges. The shooting deaths happened in the middle of the day on February 6, 1996 at a house on Monroe Avenue and 70th Street near Swope Park.
“He didn’t do it and I know he didn’t do it,” Kansas City Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks told us after looking into the case. “It was not Ricky Kidd. It was another person, but they did look a little alike.”
Still locked up
41 Action News spoke exclusively to Ricky Kidd inside the maximum security prison in Cameron, Missouri, for his first television interview.
“I really give him a lot of credit for having the will power to say, ‘Hey, this ain’t right!’” Ricky Kidd said of Commissioner Brooks.
Kidd thought a police commissioner speaking up would help free him, but he’s still in prison. Kidd hopes a judge will hear his latest appeal.
Evidence of Innocence?
“Why is it difficult for the state to correct injustice?” Kidd said.
Kidd showed us documents he says prove he's innocent: there’s no physical evidence against him, the state witness changed his story, and there's an alibi Kidd says his public defender failed to investigate.
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“This is how messed up my trial was,” said Kidd.
A copy of a gun permit shows Kidd applied for it at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department on the day of the murder.
“You would think that would be a tight enough alibi to be at a sheriff’s department at the time of the murders,” said Monica Gray, Kidd’s former girlfriend and mother of their daughter.
Gray told 41 Action News she and Kidd were together at the sheriff’s department when the murders happened.
“You just keep hoping that somebody somewhere along the chain of authority would do the right thing,” Kidd said.
Former prosecutor agrees
“I was very skeptical,” said Cindy Dodge, a former prosecutor for Jackson County. “I’m not going to help someone get out who’s not innocent.”
After investigating Kidd’s case, Dodge changed her mind and joined the case along with the Midwest Innocence Project.
“Ricky didn’t commit these murders,” Dodge said. “He is innocent. There’s no question in my mind. I wouldn’t be working on this and spending hundreds of hours of free time.”
Prosecutor opposes release
Dodge told her former colleagues in the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. She thought they would tell a judge to free Kidd.
“They have thrown up barriers wherever they can and objected to everything,” Dodge told 41 Action News.
Dodge says current prosecutor Jean Peters Baker opposes his release.
“As a former prosecutor and colleague of the current prosecutor, I do not understand it,” Dodge said. “You’d have to ask Jean. I don’t know.”
Interview requests denied
We did ask Jean Peters Baker for an interview. Her office declined and said Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is currently handing the case.
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So we asked Chris Koster for an interview, but his office also refused.
Attorney general’s argument
Instead, the Missouri Attorney General’s office pointed us to their court filing, which basically says it’s too late.
It claims Kidd missed his chance to properly appeal and also argues he can only present newly discovered evidence that wasn't available at the time of his trial.
“They’re not even arguing that I’m not innocent,” said Kidd.
Evidence shows real killer?
Kidd’s attorney Cindy Dodge says the evidence not only exonerates Kidd, it also shows who really committed the murders.
“Why isn’t he being prosecuted?” Dodge said.
The other man convicted of these murders, Marcus Merrill, previously named his two accomplices and it wasn’t Kidd.
“We know who the killers are, one of them is dead, one is in the penitentiary, the other is still on the street,” Police Commissioner Brooks said. “The one in the penitentiary gave a sworn deposition that Kidd was not with him.”
New evidence only
The office of Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told us they will “review any new evidence presented.”
“I think people should be frustrated,” Kidd said. “Any time the wrong person is in prison that means the right person is free to roam the community.”
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He hopes a judge will grant him a court hearing, but Kidd’s previous appeals have failed.
Kidd is also waiting to hear back on DNA testing of old evidence, but neither side thinks the results will be conclusive.
Patrick Fazio can be reached at email@example.com.