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Wrongly convicted inmates in Missouri usually earn nothing but freedom | Investigations

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Kevin Strickland has spent more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder in Kansas City that he says he didn’t commit.

Strickland goes back to court Monday in the latest chapter to win his freedom. But even if the court rules in his favor—freedom is all he’ll likely get.

It would be very different if Strickland was wrongfully convicted in Kansas. If that was the case, he would receive about $2.7 million–$65,000 for every year he was incarcerated. Still, Strickland is hopeful that the courts finally get it right, and he’s released.

“I hold fast in my faith that God ain’t gonna let me die in jail,” Strickland said in a recent CBS interview. “But I’m losing belief in that.”

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Strickland was 18 when he was arrested for the deaths of three people during a home invasion. At the time, he was described as a “hot-headed teenager” and made “cocky and sarcastic comments that aroused police suspicion.”

The case against Strickland rested largely on the testimony of one eyewitness who survived that night. She later had doubts and retracted her statement before she died in 2015. There is also new information on fingerprints that excludes Strickland.

But there is no DNA evidence—so there’s no compensation.

“There is this misconception that when someone’s exonerated, they’re going to get a lot of money, or there’s going to be compensation,” said Tricia Rojo Bushnell with the Midwest Innocence Project. She’s part of Strickland’s legal team.

“Missouri does not provide compensation for individuals who are wrongly convicted, unless they’re exonerated through a very specific procedure in which that person is requesting DNA testing and that DNA testing leads to evidence that proves their innocence,” said Roja Bushnell.

Rojo Bushnell points out that Kevin Strickland went to prison as a teenager and could be released when he’s in his 60s. He won’t have Social Security or any safety net if he’s released.

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“Imagine you’re coming out with no resources,” said Rojo Bushnell. “You’re also coming out to a world that’s completely different then when you went in.”

He’ll rely on the kindness of strangers.

“We have already set up GoFundMe for them to help provide that safety net for when they come home,” said Rojo Bushnell. “So that they can have a roof over their heads, even if it’s only for a little while.”

Strickland’s GoFundMe, which you can find here, has raised about $40,000 so far. But for now, Strickland is focusing only on one thing—freedom.

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