KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several Missouri representatives penned a letter to Gov. Mike Parson, requesting that he pardon Kevin Strickland, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1978.
Spearheaded by Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering), 13 legislators said in the letter that an official pardon should be given “due to the evidence that has come forth proving his innocence.”
In early May, Strickland’s lawyers, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and the Midwest Innocence Project called for his release, stating that after Strickland’s conviction a co-defendant detailed the events of the Aug. 25, 1978, shooting, and Strickland was never named.
An investigation also determined that the case, in which three people were killed and another injured, relied on eyewitness testimony from a now-deceased woman, who had ultimately recanted her statements about Strickland.
“The witness Cynthia Douglas was a young woman in 1978 who was traumatized during the triple murder,” the representatives wrote. “She witnessed the murders of her three friends and was shot herself on the day the crime took place. Later on, she officially stated that she did not name Mr. Strickland until the following day and only after her sister’s boyfriend suggested Strickland might be involved in the shooting.”
Following Strickland’s conviction, Douglas “made it known” she was wrong, the letter stated.
Strickland’s defense team had filed a petition in early May to overturn the conviction, and last week the state Supreme Court denied their exoneration request.
Strickland, who has always maintained his innocence, also was not among those who Parson pardoned last week.
McDaniel previously told 41 Action News that he questioned why Strickland was still being held, despite the Douglas changing her account.
"I was literally like all these circumstances and the local area prosecutors want him released," McDaniel wrote in the email. "I’m sure that the local prosecutors know what’s going on with the case."
Strickland currently is being held at the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron.
The following lawmakers signed the letter:
- Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, District 97
- Rep. Shamed Dogan, District 98
- Rep. Emily Weber, District 24
- Rep. Tracy McCreery, District 88
- Rep. Ashley Aune, District 14
- Rep. Richard Brown, District 27
- Rep. Tony Lovasco, District 64
- Rep. LaDonna Appelbaum, District 71
- Rep. Trish Gunby, District 99
- Rep. Patty Lewis, District 25
- Sen. Lauren Arthur, District 17
- Rep. Robert Sauls, District 21