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After 23 Years, Innocent Missouri Prisoner Walks 'Out Of A Nightmare And Into A Dream'

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Ricky Kidd spent two decades behind bars for a double murder he didn't commit. Just moments after his release Thursday, Kidd said he was ready to talk to those involved in his wrongful conviction.

In 1996, Ricky Kidd was imprisoned for a double murder in Kansas City, Missouri, he didn't commit.

Now, after 23 years behind bars, Kidd is free.

He was released Thursday from the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, one day after a DeKalb County judge determined his original trial was unfair, and further, that the evidence was "clear and convincing" Kidd was innocent.

"I feel like I just walked out of a nightmare and into a dream," Kidd said, moments after walking out of prison.

"Because, this is a dream. I dreamed this 23 years ago. I thought that I would go to the Jackson County jail and walk back out with the understanding that they had the wrong person."

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Ricky Kidd was greeted Thursday by his sister, daughters and grandchildren.

In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Daren Adkins said there was no credible evidence from the first trial to support Kidd's conviction. 

Kidd, despite his unfailing smile after being released, said he's still angry.

"We all need to be angry," he said. "Taxpayers who foot the bill for 23 years, paying for the wrong person to be in prison while the real individuals were out there in society, we all should be angry about that."

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
'Thank you God,' Nikki Kidd repeated again and again through tears as she hugged her brother.

Kidd had a message for the prosecutors involved in his original conviction: "Let's talk. Let's talk about some of these issues that cause wrongful convictions."

Issues, he said, like failing public defender systems and suggestive identification procedures.

Attorneys from The Midwest Innocence Project, who have been working on his case for years, were there to accompany Kidd out of prison Thursday.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Kidd told KCUR he wasn't overwhelmed by the media presence Thursday, because he's had plenty of time to prepare for it.

"You were my floating device. Without you, I would have drowned," he told them.

"The system failed twice," said Kidd's attorney Sean O'Brien. "It failed when it wrongfully convicted him, and it failed when it took 23 years to correct that mistake."

Though, O'Brien said, the fight is not over. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker could still call for a new trial for Kidd, but O'Brien said he doesn't think that's likely.

"There's really only one conclusion you can come to if you look at all of the evidence in the case," he said.

The question that remains, O'Brien said, is whether the state will bring the real perpetrators to justice. 

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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