Lamonte McIntyre stepped into the sunshine as a free man for the first time in 23 years on October 13, 2017. An innocent man, he'd spent more than half of his life in prison. But his release was about much more than how he'd been set up for a double murder he didn’t commit.
Two years after McIntyre’s release, a federal grand jury began investigating the many claims his case brought to light.
And this September, five years later, FBI agents arrested one of the men who’d helped send him to prison: former Kansas City, Kansas, Police detective Roger Golubski.
Golubski is now awaiting trial on six counts of depriving two women of their civil rights by sexually assaulting and kidnapping them.
Residents of Kansas City, Kansas, have called for the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a full-scale investigation of the police force. The case has generated so much attention that Jay Z’s Team Roc took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post urging a federal investigation and donated $1 million to the Midwest Innocence Project, which helped with McIntyre’s case.
Long before all this attention, plenty of people in Kansas City, Kansas, understood all too well how it felt to live in a place where one cop, or one prosecutor, had enough unchallenged power to railroad a 17-year-old kid.
April 1994: The double homicide
Back when he was a teenager, Lamonte McIntyre wanted to be a comedian. People used to tell him how funny he was.
“You remember, like, being 16 and 17 years old, you don't know, you don't have plans at that age,” McIntyre said in an interview with the Open Mike podcast a couple of years after his release. “You just kind of go with the flow.”
On April 15, 1994, McIntyre skipped school. He’d been going to Donnelly College, enrolled in a program to get his GED. Tall and skinny, he had a part-time job sweeping floors at FiFi’s Diner, where his mom, Rosie, worked.
It was just around the corner from their house. Rosie was a single mother to Lamonte and his four siblings.
McIntyre had spent the previous night at his aunt’s house, then a day hanging out with his cousins and watching TV — soap operas, the noon news and a couple movies on HBO.
Two of his aunts and another two cousins later testified that Lamonte stepped away from his aunt’s house just a few times that day: once when his aunt sent him to the store to get bread for breakfast; once to help his mother with something at her house, from 9-10:30 a.m.; and a couple of times later that afternoon to his other aunt's house, a block away, to call cabs for uncles visiting from out of town.
At 2 that afternoon, he was about a mile and a half away from Hutchings Street, where someone fatally shot two men — 21-year-old Doniel Quinn, who everyone called Little Don, and 34-year-old Donald Ewing, known as Donnie — who were sitting in a blue Cadillac Deville.
Little Don’s cousin Niko Quinn was outside her house and saw the shooter. Quinn and another witness, Ruby Mitchell, said the shooter was carrying a shotgun and wearing all black: black pants, a black hat, black shoes.
McIntyre’s cousins vividly remembered what he was wearing that day — khaki pants and a black T-shirt with white lettering on it — because he hadn’t brought fresh clothes to his aunt’s house, and they were kidding him about wearing the same clothes for two days.
He was also wearing a ball cap. One cousin remembered it saying Michigan, another remembered it as Georgetown.
Later that afternoon, McIntyre’s grandmother called him at his aunt’s house and told him the police wanted to talk to him. The only thing he could think of, McIntrye later testified, was that maybe he missed court for a recent charge of drug possession. So he called his mom at FiFi’s Diner.
Rosie McIntyre went to pick him up, but as she drove by Fifi’s again on the way to the police station, a police car was parked at the diner. Rosie stopped and introduced herself. The police told her they just needed to talk to her son for 15 minutes.
“I believed in the system,” Rosie McIntyre later told The Kansas City Star. “They said give them 15 minutes, and I did. And I didn't never get my son.”
A wave of police cars descended on FiFi’s Diner, and one of them took Lamonte to the station. That’s where he met the man who would be central to all the victims in this case: Kansas City, Kansas, Police detective Roger Golubski.
Golubski questioned McIntyre. Had he been in any gang fights? No. Did he know anyone who owned a blue low-rider? No. Where was he at 2 p.m.? McIntyre said he was at his aunt's house.
Officers told McIntyre one of the guys who’d been shot was still alive at the hospital and had identified him, which was a lie. McIntyre said that wasn’t possible — he wasn’t there.
McIntyre’s aunts and cousins tried to talk to police, even going to the station a couple of times, where someone took their names. But they later testified no one ever contacted them.
At 8 p.m. on April 15, 1994, just six hours after the murders, Lamonte McIntyre was advised of his rights and arrested for the crime.
Earlier that afternoon, a different Kansas City, Kansas, Police officer was interviewing a witness named Ruby Mitchell.
A 27-year-old single mother, Mitchell lived on Hutchings Street with her three sons. She was looking out the screen door around 2 p.m. that day.
“He came down the hill and then he stopped ‘bout halfway and picked up something. I guess he dropped the shell or something. I don't know,” Mitchell said of the shooter in her first interview with police. “And then he, um, pumped the gun and then he came to the car and he said something to the dudes. And then he just started shooting.”
Mitchell’s account was the same as that of Niko Quinn, the other witness: The gunman was all in black, carrying a shotgun. He shot three or four times at the two men in the powder-blue Cadillac DeVille, then walked off, over the hill where he came from.
The officer asked Mitchell about the shooter’s hair. It wasn’t real short, she told him. It was slicked down — like an Afro, but swept back.
Was the shooter heavy or thin, the officer asked. He was thin, Mitchell said.
There was one difference between Mitchell’s account and Niko Quinn’s. Mitchell said the shooter looked like a man who’d tried to talk to her niece — that man’s name, she said, was Lamonte.
(The man who was interested in Mitchell’s niece was named Lamonte Drain, though she didn’t know his last name at the time, and he was out of town on the day of the murders.)
The officer spent just four minutes with Mitchell. Twice he asked her: Could you recognize him again if you saw him? Both times, Mitchell said yes.
Later that day, Golubski went back to Ruby Mitchell's house, picked her up and took her to the police station. Police were ready with a photo lineup of five pictures (police standards call for six photos).
Three of the men in the photographs were members of Lamonte McIntyre’s family: Lamonte, his brother, and a cousin. His lawyers later called that “unduly suggestive,” meaning police were trying to get witnesses to choose Lamonte out of the lineup.
Golubski’s partner questioned her again. He asked her about the name she’d told them she almost called out when she saw the man run down the hill — it was Lamonte, she said, the person who tried to talk to her niece.
He asked her about the shooter she had picked out from the pictures: “Are you absolutely sure this is the party who did the shooting?”
“Yes,” she said.
“And who is this party?” he asked.
“Lamonte,” she said.
“You know his last name?” he asked.
Mitchell paused. “Yes,” she said.
“What is it?” he asked.
Mitchel paused again. “McIntyre,” she said.
Ruby Mitchell’s pauses are audible in the police recording of this interview: The first is just before she says she knew Lamonte’s last name — earlier in the day she didn’t know the last name of the young man who’d tried to talk to her niece; the second is after the detective asks her for that name, which she says is McIntyre.
Detectives ran with it, wrapping up a double murder in six hours. In police records from that night, Golubski marked the case “cleared” with Lamonte McIntyre’s arrest.
McIntyre went on trial five months later, in September 1994. When Golubski testified, he said Ruby Mitchell’s identification of Lamonte McIntyre was backed up by “confidential informants” — sources from the streets who also mentioned Lamonte McIntyre as the killer.
Using “confidential informants” to solve cases was one of Golubski’s specialties, according to court records.
The Wyandotte County prosecutor on the case, Terra Morehead, was ready to help Golubski with those informants. Before the trial, Niko Quinn said Morehead threatened to lock her up and take her children if she didn’t identify Lamonte McIntyre as the killer.
At McIntyre’s trial, Morehead cited case law to show the judge and jury how Golubski’s use of anonymous sources was perfectly legal.
McIntyre’s aunts and cousins testified at the trial that he was with them on the day of the murders. But Morehead peppered them with questions about why they didn’t remember the times more precisely. She accused them of rehearsing their stories. Morehead also told the jury — without offering proof — that McIntyre had a vendetta against the two men who were killed in the Cadillac.
McIntyre’s lawyer pointed out that police didn’t get fingerprints off the shotgun shells, they didn’t search McIntyre’s home, they didn’t find the shotgun, they didn’t try to find the all-black clothes the shooter was wearing or test McIntyre’s clothes.
In fact, McIntyre’s lawyer said, Golubski didn’t execute one search warrant in this case.
Police simply relied on the testimony of two witnesses: Niko Quinn and Ruby Mitchell.
In his closing argument, McIntyre’s lawyer said the police asked Ruby Mitchell to look at a photo lineup and she picked out a person who looked like the Lamonte she knew.
“Oops, she was wrong,” McIntyre’s lawyer said. “She picked out the wrong Lamonte.”
After a trial that lasted four days, the jury found Lamonte McIntyre guilty of the double murders on Hutchings Street. He was 17 the day of the double murders, 18 the day he was convicted.
“I don't believe — I don't believe this, man,” McIntyre blurted out. The judge told him to be quiet and polled the jury.
One by one, all 12 jurors said guilty.
In January 1995, Lamonte McIntyre was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. He said just 13 words: “Judge, I would like to tell the court that I’m innocent. That’s all.”
'A trance or shock or something'
“I think for the most part, I was shocked,” McIntyre told KCUR 27 years later, in 2021. “At that time I did have faith in the justice system and I knew that I had nothing to do with the crime or wasn't, I wasn't responsible for the death to those two men. So I kind of expected to walk out the courtroom that day.”
McIntyre didn’t know he had other reasons not trust the justice system.
For instance, the county prosecutor who brought his case had a previous romantic relationship with the judge — a conflict of interest that Lamonte’s lawyers later used in his exoneration case.
And McIntyre’s court-appointed lawyer, Gary Long, had never tried a murder case. Long had also been disciplined by the Kansas Supreme Court for mishandling his clients’ cases. Long was disbarred a few years later.
McIntyre’s first few years in prison were hell. He was so angry he never smiled, earning the nickname “Mugs.”
“When I got convicted, man, I went in and I was so hurt and angry,” McIntyre said. “So that first five years was like me being in a, uh, I don't know, it was like a trance or shock or something.”
But McIntyre hung on to his innocence, using it like a crutch to keep him steady. And he met a man in prison who helped him return to his faith in God. He decided that his anger wasn’t harming the people who put him there, it was harming him.
So he prayed, talked on the phone to family, worked out, and read about philosophers, spirituality and Shakespeare.
He also kept up with the news. From his prison cell, McIntyre learned of events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the O.J. Simpson case, President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Columbine.
And he asked for help.
“I wrote hundreds of letters a week to all different organizations, different types of media source outlets,” he said. “I wrote Oprah Winfrey. I was writing all kind of people. And I sent a lot, a lot. And a lot of people responded, but a lot of people couldn't do nothing for me. A lot of people said there was nothing they could do.”
On the outside, one of the murder witnesses who had given false testimony to the police — Niko Quinn — signed an affidavit two years after his conviction saying McIntyre didn't do it. But she failed in her efforts to help his family and get him released.
Wyandotte County Judge Dexter Burdette, who had overseen the first trial, said he didn’t believe her.
McIntyre’s luck finally changed one day around 2001, after he saw an article in Jet Magazine about Centurion Ministries, a group dedicated to exonerating innocent men.
McIntyre wrote a letter to Centurion’s investigators.
“I’m 100% innocent of the crime I’m doing time for,” he wrote. “I have been doing my best trying to prove that. I have no money and I don’t know where to go from here. So I’m asking for your help. If you could just look at my case, you would see that I shouldn’t be here.”
That’s how he met Jim McCloskey, the man who got him out of prison.
Since founding Centurion Ministries in 1980, McCloskey has helped free 68 people from prison. After eight years corresponding with McIntyre and reading the paper trail, McCloskey was convinced of McIntyre’s innocence. He started work on the case in 2009.
McCloskey spent a lot of time knocking on doors and talking to people on the streets — to the Quinn family, Lamonte McIntyre’s family, Ruby Mitchell.
Niko Quinn told him she believed the real killer was a 15-year-old kid working for the biggest drug dealers in Kansas City, Kansas: Neil Edgar, Jr. (Edgar has denied any involvement in the double murders and has never been charged in connection with them.)
McCloskey hired an attorney to try to get McIntyre’s case back in court. They talked to the Wyandotte County District Attorney about Golubski and about the county prosecutor, Terra Morehead, who had threatened Niko Quinn into testifying against McIntyre.
“We went through chapter and verse … why we believe Lamonte was innocent. Monster was guilty. And the misdeeds of Terra Morehead, Roger Golubski,” McCloskey says. “He didn't take one note. He listened, didn't really ask any questions. It was quite obvious. He could care less what we said or what evidence we had.”
A ‘manifest injustice’
But then, in 2016, voters in Kansas City, Kansas, elected a new district attorney.
Mark Dupree was a 34-year-old Black defense lawyer who was also a pastor at Grace Tabernacle Church. He met with McCloskey and McIntyre’s lawyer, and they got an exoneration hearing set for October 12, 2017. It was supposed to last seven days.
Dupree knew McIntyre’s case well. He’d even done some of his own investigating. And by the second day of the hearing, he’d heard enough. He went out to lunch alone, to a cafeteria in the basement of the casino across the street from the courthouse, where he ordered chicken fingers and fries.
“And I only ate one chicken finger ‘cause my, my stomach was, I was very nervous,” Dupree says, “and I knew that I was about to tick the establishment off.”
Dupree was planning to do something that would change Lamonte McIntyre’s life and defy the entire entrenched political and legal power structure in Kansas City, Kansas.
“I knew I was at that point where I had gotten … the, I think, gall, right? And … not being afraid of the political backlash that I knew I was about to step into,” he says.
Dupree made a plan. He would go back across the street and advise Lamonte's legal team to tell the judge they wanted to enter Lamonte McIntyre's entire case into evidence. Dupree told his prosecutors not to object to that.
Then, Dupree would ask for the case to be dismissed — a strategy that is rarely used, because it means that he’s overturning a decision by his own office.
Before he left the cafeteria that day, he wrote up a statement to read in court.
“I’ve been presented with information regarding the identification of Mr. McIntyre in 1994 as the killer of Donnell Quinn and Donny Ewing,” Dupree read, “information that I believe was not available during the trial, of a nature that I believe that, had it been presented to the jury in the 1994 trial that convicted Mr. McIntyre, it may certainly have caused those jurors to have reasonable doubt as to Mr. McIntyre's guilt.
“It is because of this information and only this information,” he continued, “that my office is requesting the court find that manifest injustice exists that Mr. McIntyre should be granted an opportunity for a new trial.”
The judge granted a new trial. Dupree’s next words:
“Judge, on behalf of the state of Kansas and as a minister of justice and the chief law enforcement officer of this county, based off my investigation in this case, this office moves to dismiss this case.”
The courtroom erupted.
“He came into court and announced he's recommending that the convictions be vacated and the charges against Lamont be dismissed,” McCloskey says. “Case over. It was unbelievable! So it was just such a moment of joy and relief that it's over. He's a free and exonerated man.”
It was also hard to believe because a prosecutor’s decision to reverse an earlier case is so rare.
“It was like a, it was like a, a, I don't know, a moonshot, you know, something from Mars coming down on earth,” McCloskey says. “This never happens.”
Life after prison
In the days after his release, Lamonte McIntyre said he planned to get his barber’s license, finish his education and follow his passions.
But he wasn’t the only one who had suffered needlessly for 23 years. Rosie McIntyre had two nervous breakdowns and still blames herself.
“The day of the crime, I took my son to see what the, you know, the authorities want,” she says. “And they said, give him 15 minutes and I could come get my son. So from that day on I — 15 minutes did not come. So I relived that each and every day of my life. I actually did the time with my son each and every day.”
Rosie McIntyre never doubted her son’s innocence. She visited him once a month while he was incarcerated in two different Kansas prisons.
In the years immediately after the murders, she even tried extreme things to get Lamonte out, such as dressing as a man at night to go into the tough part of town where the murders happened, trying to find more information. She also made phone calls and wrote letters: to the NAACP, “60 Minutes,” Court TV, Sally Jessy Raphael. Queen Latifah. Montel Williams.
“I didn't lose hope. I lost my nerves. I lost, I — I don't know how to really describe it,” she says. “It was so much hurting. It was hurt. It was pain. I never, I mean, I, I was doing so much to try to free my own son till I broke several times, you know?”
Rosie McIntyre has played a significant role in her son’s case. After Lamonte was exonerated and released, his lawyers filed a federal civil rights case, laying out the sloppy and coercive police investigation and seeking more than $100 million.
The lawsuit also alleged that one of Golubski’s motives for framing Lamonte was because Rose McIntyre had spurned Golubski’s advances.
Years before the 1994 double homicide, the lawsuit said, Golubski stopped Rosie McIntyre and her boyfriend, asking Rosie to get out of the car. Rose says Golubski told her to meet him at the police station the next day, or he would arrest her boyfriend.
When she went to the station the next day, McIntyre says Golubski forced a sex act. After that, Golubski wanted a long-term sexual arrangement, the lawsuit said, but Rose McIntyre dodged him by moving and changing her phone number.
Setting up her son, the lawsuit said, was Golubki’s revenge for Rose’s rejection.
But the investigator who broke the case doesn’t agree with this alleged motive. Jim McCloskey says after Ruby Mitchell told police the name Lamonte, Golubski simply wanted to find a Black kid named Lamonte, called over to the juvenile division and got Lamonte McIntyre. McCloskey wonders if Golubski even remembered Rose McIntyre.
“He had so many Black women on his list. She was just one of, countless,” McCloskey says.
Ruby Mitchell, the neighbor who originally pinned the crime on a “Lamonte,” still lives in Kansas City, Kansas, but she did not respond to KCUR’s request for an interview. McCloskey says she felt terrible about the McIntyre case and asked that he apologize to Lamonte and Rosie for her.
Lamonte McIntyre has been out of prison now for a little over four years. He’s 46, catching up on life. He started a barber academy in Kansas City, Kansas, called Headlines, and, with another exoneree, founded their own non-profit, Miracle of Innocence.
He and his family, including Rosie, have moved to Arizona where he has a real estate company and a barbershop called Off The Top.
He’s learned social media (even though when he got out of prison, he couldn’t believe how much everyone was into their phones). He posts positive messages on Facebook, inspirational posts about spirituality, about being grateful and working out and eating right. He often uses the hashtag #BeGoodToYourself.
“I feel good, but I'm here for that,” he said on Facebook last May. “So every morning I walk around, I work out And I have dialogue with God, right? Every morning I do this.”
'That's still inhumane'
Since his release, he’s talked to dozens of reporters and told his story countless times.
McIntyre doesn’t do anger, but once, on a podcast in November 2020, a Michigan defense attorney named Mike Morse asked him a question he’d heard way too many times before: “But were you involved in, you know, had you ever been arrested before this had happened?”
“Instead of people looking at why a innocent person would probably go to jail, they'll look at what possibly could he have done to put himself in that kind of situation,” Lamonte said.
No matter what someone is doing, they can still be wrongfully accused, McIntyre said, his anger flashing.
“Let's say you was even breaking the law, whatever you was doing at that time. Right? And a group of people decided to come and say, you responsible for something you didn't do. Right? You had nothing to do with, right? And later on, they tried to justify by saying, well, he was at, they're doing something, right.
“That's still inhumane," McIntyre continued. "That's the sickest thing a person can do. And the way the system is designed, the way they got it set up, that stuff is disgusting, man. And I hear these questions all the time. Cause this is how people try to rationalize that situation.”
McIntyre wanted to talk about one thing.
“What I do understand and know is without accountability, that kind of stuff will continue to happen. It's not even shocking, no more to hear about it,” he said. “It's important that people hear and understand just how flawed our system is and just how much, uh, accountability is absent without holding people in those positions accountable, they can just take a person's life from them, snatching people's and ruin it, with a license. And that's what's been going on.”
Golubski's arrest — and release
In June, the local government of Kansas City, Kansas, agreed to settle the federal civil rights case that the McIntyre family had filed against it. The Wyandotte County Commissioners agreed to pay Lamonte $12.5 million — much less than the $100 million the family asked for.
The commissioners were quick to say that they admitted no wrongdoing. But it’s the largest public settlement related to a wrongful conviction in Kansas history.
McIntyre’s first lawyer, Gary Long, won back his law license in 2015 after being disbarred, but in June 2022, he was indefinitely suspended again by the Kansas Supreme Court for multiple ethics violations, including violations in two criminal cases.
County prosecutor Terra Morehead moved up to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas, but with all the news on McIntyre’s case and claims that she interfered with a defense witness in another case, she’s been taken off criminal cases and is relegated to just civil work.
Roger Golubski’s arrest and indictment in September 2022 looked like the kind of accountability activists in Kansas City, Kansas, had spent years calling for.
"I can rest," Niko Quinn said on the day FBI agents took Golubski to jail. "I can rest knowing he's behind bars. I can sleep. I am tired of running."
Within days, however, a federal judge released Golubski until his trial.
Although federal prosecutors had argued he was too dangerous to be released on bond, U.S. Magistrate Judge Rachel E. Schwartz said Golubski’s poor health conditions — including Type 1 diabetes, heart problems and renal failure — meant that he could no longer threaten or harass the women he’s accused of assaulting and raping.
Golubski was placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
Lamonte McIntyre was sitting in the front row of the courtroom, which was packed with the families of Golubski's alleged victims. The moment Schwartz issued her ruling, McIntyre jumped up and walked out.
Niko Quinn was also in the courtroom that day. The judge's decision made her furious.
"I won't be able to sleep and I have PTSD. I had a good night's sleep when they arrested him," she said. "I'm about to go on the run again."
Niko Quinn says Golubski also victimized her big sister, Stacey Quinn. And Niko has to be the one to tell that story, because — like many other Black women in Kansas City, Kansas — Stacey was murdered.
Overlooked is a production of KCUR Studios and the NPR Midwest Newsroom.
Hosted by Peggy Lowe. Reported by Peggy Lowe, Steve Vockrodt and Dan Margolies. Produced, mixed and sound designed by Mackenzie Martin and Suzanne Hogan. Edited by C.J. Janovy. Mixing help from Paris Norvel and Trevor Grandin. Digital editing by Gabe Rosenberg. Social media promotion by Allison Harris. Photos by Carlos Moreno and Julie Denesha. Artwork by Crysta Henthorne. Music from Blue Dot Sessions. Special thanks to Genevieve Des Marteau, Lisa Rodriguez and Holly Edgell.