Kevin Strickland: Thousands of people raised over $ 900,000 for man who served 43 years in prison for a crime he did not commit

Kevin Strickland, 62, was exonerated Tuesday morning after serving decades at the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. Strickland was convicted in 1979 on one count of capital murder and two counts of second degree murder in a triple homicide. He received a 50-year life sentence without the possibility of parole for a crime in which, over the years, he maintained he had not been involved.
Senior Judge James Welsh has dismissed all charges against Strickland. His release makes his jail the longest wrongful jail term in Missouri’s history and one of the longest in the country, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
The Midwest Innocence Project set up a GoFundMe account to help Strickland start his life over, as he is not eligible for aid from the state of Missouri.

In Missouri, only people cleared through DNA testing are eligible for $ 50 per day in sentenced custody, according to Project Innocence. This was not the case for Strickland.

By early Thursday afternoon, donations for Strickland had exceeded $ 910,000.

The fund was set up over the summer with the aim of raising $ 7,500, which the fund said would equate to about $ 175 for every year Strickland wrongly spends.

Thirty-six states and Washington, DC, have laws in effect that offer compensation to exempt individuals, according to Project Innocence. The federal standard for compensating wrongly convicted persons is at least $ 50,000 per year of incarceration, plus an additional amount for each year spent on death row.

Adapt to a new world

Strickland said he learned of his release through a breaking news report that interrupted the soap opera he was watching on Tuesday.

The first thing he did after his release was to visit his mother’s grave.

“Knowing that my mom was under this filth and that I haven’t had a chance to visit her in recent years …” Strickland told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Wednesday.

He visited his mother's grave for the first time after spending 43 years in prison for a murder he did not commit

His first night out of jail was hectic, where thoughts of returning to jail, among other things, kept him awake, he said on Wednesday.

“I’m used to living in a closed, confined cell where I know exactly what’s going on in there with me,” he said. “And being at home and you hear the house creaking, the electrical wiring and everything… I was a little scared. I thought someone was coming to get me.”

Sentenced as a teenager, exonerated as an adult

Four people were shot dead in Kansas City, Missouri on April 25, 1978, killing three, according to CNN affiliate KSHB. The sole survivor of the crime, Cynthia Douglas, who died in 2015, testified in 1978 that Strickland was at the scene of the triple murder.

Douglas sustained a gunshot wound and told police Vincent Bell and Kiln Adkins were two of the perpetrators. But she didn’t identify Strickland, whom she knew, as being at the scene until a day later, according to KSHB, after it was suggested to her that Strickland’s hair matched Douglas’ description of the gunman. Douglas claimed his initial failure to identify him was due to the use of brandy and marijuana, according to KSHB.

He spent years in prison for the rape of author Alice Sebold, the subject of his memoir,

But for 30 years, she says she was wrong and that she falsely identified Strickland. According to KSHB, Douglas made efforts to free Strickland through the Midwest Innocence Project.

The two assailants she identified at the scene both pleaded guilty to second degree murder and each ended up serving around 10 years in prison for the crimes, according to Strickland attorney Robert Hoffman.

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