Donations continue to pour in for Kevin Strickland following his release from a Missouri prison on Tuesday after he was locked up for 43 years for a triple murder he says he did not commit. The 63-year-old, who isn’t entitled to any compensation from the state despite his wrongful incarceration, has so far received over $1 million dollars in donations.
Following Strickland’s release, the Midwest Innocence Project set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to help Strickland “establish himself in a home and provide for his basic needs.” The initial goal was $7,500, but over $200,000 was raised just hours after his release on Tuesday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Some of the generous donors who commented on Strickland’s GoFundMe said their donations were to atone for the way state officials went above and beyond to keep him locked up despite evidence pointing to his innocence.
“It should be a federal crime against the DA & police if a person spends time in prison for a crime they didn’t commit,” a donor said.
“I’m outraged and sickened by Missouri’s failure to compensate you. I’m so, so sorry that this horrendous miscarriage of justice happened. The state of Missouri should be ashamed of itself and should MAKE IT RIGHT,” another donor wrote. “Gee, it almost looks like MO doesn’t think that this black life matters, doesn’t it? And people wonder why we have to say that black lives MATTER.”
Per the page, Strickland isn’t entitled to compensation because “there is no Missouri statute to compensate a person wrongfully convicted of a crime and later found innocent, unless through DNA, and that is not the case here.”
Another donor also condemned Gov. Mike Parson, writing, “I donated because Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is a cruel SOB! Kevin Strickland should get $1 million for every year he was in prison.”
In May 2021, prosecutors at Jackson County reportedly called for Strickland’s immediate release on the grounds that he was “factually innocent.” Parson refused to grant him clemency despite a number of appeals. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was also adamant Strickland was guilty and tried to prevent his eventual release.
Strickland was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years after he was found guilty of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of three people in 1978, Face2Face Africa reported. Strickland had maintained his innocence despite his conviction.
Per The National Registry of Exonerations, the 43 years Strickland spent behind bars is the longest wrongful imprisonment in the history of Missouri and also one of the longest in the United States.
Per KSHB, Strickland was convicted after he was accused of being involved in a shooting incident on April 25, 1978, that left three people dead. Cynthia Douglas, who testified during the 1978 trial, was the only person among the four victims to have survived the shootings. Douglas testified Strickland was at the crime scene when the incident occurred.
And though Douglas also identified two assailants for their involvement in the shootings, she did not identify Strickland. That was despite the fact that Strickland wasn’t a stranger to her. Douglas, who passed away in 2015, however, identified Strickland the next day. But that was after she was told Strickland’s hair seemingly matched her description of the person who opened fire on them. Douglas also claimed her inability to identify Strickland earlier was because she had consumed cognac and marijuana, KSHB reported.
Over the last three decades, however, Douglas reportedly admitted she erred and wrongly identified Strickland. She also helped in trying to get Strickland subsequently released through the Midwest Innocence Project.
Strickland’s attorney, Robert Hoffman, said the two other suspects Douglas identified – Vincent Bell and Kiln Adkins – spent about 10 years behind bars in connection with the killings after they pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, CNN reported.
In an interview with The Kansas City Star in 2020, the two men also swore they were not with Strickland at the time of the shootings.