KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Olin “Pete” Coones, who served 12 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted for murder died Sunday, according to a statement from his attorney.
His death comes three-and-a-half months after his exoneration on Nov. 5, 2020, the release from the Midwest Innocence Project and the law form of Morgan Pilate stated. He was 64.
"During this too-short return to his family, Pete met his grandchildren for the first time, having been deprived of their joy and laughter for over a decade," the statement read. "Like so many grandfathers, he was smitten with them and wanted nothing more than to be their reliable source of extra treats and flexible rules."
Coones' death, according to the statement, was "the result of continued state neglect and mistreatment."
It is with great sorrow and outrage that we announce that Kansas exoneree Olin "Pete" Coones passed away today, just 108 days after his exoneration. Please read our statement below and hold the Coones family in your hearts. pic.twitter.com/woX7qD19D0— Midwest Innocence Project (@The_MIP) February 21, 2021
"The evidence suggests that he ultimately succumbed to health conditions that went undiagnosed and untreated during his time in prison," the statement read. "We take a small measure of comfort that Pete died a free man."
In an interview with 41 Action News days after his release, Coones said he thought he was never coming home.
“I didn’t need a miracle, I just needed the truth," Coones said, "and I got a miracle of truth, and so, that’s a double blessing."
Coones' family and attorney said they will "keep demanding justice in his memory."
"His life was stolen because his innocence did not matter," according to the statement. "We are not finished telling Pete’s story. It is a tragic day for those who loved him. But our resolve for accountability survives."
In November, the Wyandotte County District Attorney dismissed a murder charge against Coones after new evidence discovered by the Conviction Integrity Unit.
Coones was charged in 2008 in the death of Kathleen Schroll.
In November, an original medical examiner in the case testified that the death of Schroll was likely a murder-suicide and not a double homicide.