A man in Missouri who was exonerated after spending the past 43 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is set to become a millionaire.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up for 62-year-old Kevin Strickland after it was revealed that the state of Missouri will reportedly not be providing financial assistance.
This is despite the fact that he endured the seventh-longest wrongful imprisonment acknowledged in American history – and the longest in Missouri by more than a decade.
According to the Midwest Innocence Project, who have worked for months to help free Strickland, the state of Missouri only compensates prisoners exonerated through DNA evidence, not due to eyewitness testimony.
However, the GoFundMe set up by the Midwest Innocence Project – which you can donate to here – has already raised $1,306,650 at the time of writing, surpassing its $1,200,000 goal.
An update posted on Tuesday (23 November) reads: “Thank you all for your support! All funds go directly to Mr. Strickland, who the state of Missouri won’t provide a dime to for the 43 years they stole from him.”
When he was just 18, Strickland was accused of being involved in a triple murder in 1978, which saw four suspects tie up four victims as they ransacked a bungalow.
Three victims were fatally shot – 20-year-old John Walker, 22-year-old Sherri Black and 21-year-old Larry Ingram – while Cynthia Douglas managed to escape after playing dead.
Douglas was able to identify suspects Vincent Bell, 21, and Kilm Adkins, 19, but could not identify the remaining two – one of whom had a brown paper sack over his head.
She described a suspect to her sister’s boyfriend, who suggested that the perpetrator may have been Strickland.
Douglas went on to identify him and Strickland was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years.
However, Douglas later recanted her testimony, saying he had been ‘wrongfully accused’.
Writing to the Midwest Innocence Project, she said: “I was the only eyewitness and things were not clear back then, but now I know more and would like to help this person if I can.”
The BBC reports that prosecutors in Jackson County started to review Strickland’s conviction last November.
Granting a motion for Strickland’s exoneration on Tuesday (23 November), Judge James Welsh ordered for Strickland’s immediate release.
Judge Welsh concluded that ‘no physical evidence implicated Strickland in the triple homicide’, adding: “Instead, Strickland was convicted solely on the eyewitness testimony of (Cynthia) Douglas, who subsequently recanted her statements identifying him as one of the four perpetrators.”
Speaking on the exoneration, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement: “To say we’re extremely pleased and grateful is an understatement.
“This brings justice – finally – to a man who has tragically suffered so so greatly as a result of this wrongful conviction.”