Fundraiser Tops $1.6 Million to Help Man Who Served 43 Years in Prison for Crime He Did Not Commit
Kevin Strickland left a Missouri prison last Tuesday, Nov. 23, after being exonerated in a 1978 triple homicide. However, under Missouri law, he was ineligible for compensation from the state because he was exonerated without any DNA evidence.
The Midwest Innocence Project launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Strickland, and it has already reached over $1.6 million in donations as of Monday afternoon. Strickland was taken into custody at just 18 years old.
Tricia Rojo Bushnell, the attorney representing Strickland and the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, told The Washington Post on Friday that people from all over the world have reached out in hopes of helping her client.
As for state compensation, Bushnell said that only a small minority of people receive it. “The vast majority of folks who are exonerated are exonerated through non-DNA evidence and the vast majority of crimes do not involve DNA at all. So what we see in Missouri is folks get home and they are provided nothing,” said Bushnell. “He’s 62 years old with physical problems. He’s not going to be able to work in the way that many other folks coming home would. This has got to be something to sustain him.”
Judge James Welsh ruled that Strickland’s conviction should be vacated due to no physical evidence linking him to the crime. “Under these unique circumstances, the Court’s confidence in Strickland’s convictions is so undermined that it cannot stand, and the judgment of conviction must be set aside,” the judge wrote in ordering Strickland’s immediate release, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m not necessarily angry. It’s a lot. I think I’ve created emotions that you all don’t know about just yet. Joy, sorrow, fear. I am trying to figure out how to put them together,” he told reporters as he left the Western Missouri Correctional Center. Upon his release, the first thing Strickland did was visit his mother’s grave.
To donate, visit the GoFundMe page here.
Image source: KTLA, Yahoo