November 26, 2021
Cynthia Douglas was the only survivor of a 1978 shooting in Kansas City, Missouri that claimed the lives of three other people. She told police that Vincent Bell and Kiln Adkins were two of the perpetrators, but did not identify Kevin Strickland, whom she knew, until a day later, after it was suggested to her that Strickland’s hair matched her description of the shooter.
Strickland was convicted of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Douglas, who died in 2015, spent decades insisting that she had made a mistake and had falsely identified Strickland.
On Tuesday, a Missouri judge set aside Strickland’s conviction and the now 62-year-old was released from prison after serving 43 years for a crime he did not commit.
Astonishingly, he is not entitled to any compensation; Missouri law only allows prisoners whose wrongful convictions were disproved through the use of DNA evidence to obtain damages from the State.
A useful reminder of the frailty of human judgment the next time someone argues that the death penalty is a good idea.