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Ricky Kidd, man exonerated after 23 years, leading training for Jackson County prosecutors

Ricky Kidd
Posted at 9:07 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 23:19:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — After 23 years in prison, Ricky Kidd was exonerated after a wrongful murder conviction.

Since his release in 2019, Kidd has been working on a training program to help prevent them.

His first stop was the Jackson County Courthouse, the same place where his life changed forever.

"I wanted to start with the prosecutor's office Dia, because they are on the front line. They're on the front line," Kidd said. "If an injustice is taking place, that is causing a wrongful conviction, it's through a DA's office or a circuit attorney's office."

The course covers everything from criminal investigation to prosecution and how integrity and stress can play a role in mistakes along the way.

After the lunch and learn on Thursday, Dan Portnoy, a trial team leader in the office weighed on the impact Kidd's training can have.

"Most people who work here, get into it to make sure they're helping the community, keeping the community safer and Mr. Kidd is an example of the consequence of doing our job poorly," Portnoy said. "Making mistakes that really affect not only the wrongfully convicted person, but can leave someone who did commit the crime unpunished, so it's incredibly valuable."

Dion Sanker, a deputy prosecutor for the office, also weighed in on the value of his training.

"I think it puts a realness to the situation that maybe you didn't have before," Sankar said. "I think it's extremely powerful and it's important because prosecutors, as Mr. Kidd said, it's not just about situations in which you know that the person is innocent and you're making those choices. Those choices should be easy and they should be apparent to prosecutors. It's also making sure your integrity and your ethics hold in difficult choices where, you may believe the person is good for it but the evidence doesn't support it. I think Mr. Kidd's presentation helps us draw that line."

Kidd originally approached Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to gauge her interest in opening up her office to do a workshop for her team. Very quickly, she agreed.

"Many people are familiar with the story of Ricky Kidd. He served 23 years on a KC murder he didn't commit. And, unfortunately, we know of many others wrongfully convicted," Peters Baker said. "Kidd though, stands out in a special way. He spends much of his time working on how to help prosecutors to prevent more wrongful convictions in the future. He'll be spending a second day with Jackson County prosecutors on just such training. And he's planning to expand it much wider across America."

That warm welcome was encouraging for Kidd.

"She saw enough to say, 'you know what we can do better,'" Kidd said. "We can do more."

Now, he's living his dream and working to change the system starting right where his wrongful conviction began.

"Sometimes it's surreal. But I also feel Dia, that I'm walking in purpose on purpose," Kidd said.

To learn more about Ricky Kidd's training program and his work people can visit the "I Am Resilience" website.