NewsLocal News


Missouri AG's office faces deadline in Kevin Strickland case as his attorneys urge the case along

Jackson County circuit court division 18
Posted at 10:13 AM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 18:41:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The path for possible freedom for Kevin Strickland inched forward following a court hearing Thursday morning.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Strickland will get his day in court, despite a slow-moving process.

"While it is not yet too late, it's late. This is late," Peters Baker said following the hearing.

An appeals court approved Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's motion to delay the evidentiary hearing where Strickland's attorneys would've argued his innocence. It was supposed to happen Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

Instead, attorneys met for a review hearing. The AG's office requested evidence in the case and has until 5 p.m. Friday to file.

Attorneys will meet again on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. to go over pending motions.

"Hopefully immediately thereafter we can pick a date where we can be in a courtroom before a judge and can hear the actual evidence in the case," Peters Baker said. "Rather than process and a lot of other things that don't matter, the evidence in the case, that's what I'm prepared to do."

The AG's office filed a motion to have Judge Kevin Harrell and all of Jackson County's judges recused from the case.

In its motion, the office says they need an impartial judge on the case, referring to a letter Peters Baker wrote that said presiding judge Dale Youngs agrees on behalf of the court that Strickland is innocent.

Peters Baker said although a new law allows her to ask judges to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, the AG's office is bogging them down with delays.

"I don't think much more time should be needed for us to get into a courtroom and just find a judge that's willing to hear this evidence. That's all we want, a judge to hear the evidence," Peters Baker said.

The AG's office maintains they need enough time to prepare for the hearing.

Strickland's attorneys argue the case information has been available for 42 years. Peters Baker said the AG's office has been working on the case throughout the summer.

Representatives from the National Organization of Exonerees came to the hearing to show support for Strickland.

"It's extremely frustrating for us, it's hurtful. People tend to forget there's lives on end of this," said Kenneth Nixon, chairman of the group.

Judge Harrell initially suggested setting the next hearing for Sept. 24, but Strickland's attorneys urged them to agree on a sooner date. Nixon echoes their concerns that every day they delay is another day Strickland is "wrongfully" sitting in a prison cell.

"This is a very personal issue to each of us. We came here because we know what it feels like to be where he is," Nixon said. "We will not stand for injustice under any circumstances."

The group came wearing yellow shirts with the number of years they wrongfully served in prison emblazoned on the back.

They say they're confident Strickland will soon wear one of their yellow shirts, only the number on the back of his will read 42 years.

This is a developing story and will be updated.