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After 23 Years In Prison, Freed Kansas City Man Trying To 'Believe It's Real'

Luke X. Martin
KCUR 89.3

He’s not angry.

He’s been eating everything he can.

And he’s noticed how distracted we all are thanks to our smartphones.

But mostly, Lamonte McIntyre says, he spent most of his time in his first week out of prison after 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit:

“Trying to force myself to believe it’s real,” he says. “That’s what I’ll spend my life doing.”

On Friday, Oct. 13, McIntyre, 41, was exonerated for a double murder he was convicted of in what Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said was a “manifest injustice.”

McIntyre told KCUR’s Up to Date that he was angry when he was first imprisoned, but that he educated himself in prison, found God again, and decided to do what was best for himself.

“I wanted to take care of myself because I knew that one day I’d see freedom,” McIntyre says. “One way of that was getting rid of all the anger and hate I had in me and forgave everybody who had a hand in making sure that I’d never see daylight again.”

Just 17 at the time, McIntyre was charged as an adult in the 1994 murders, despite a lack of evidence and in what some have suggested was a drug killing. Kansas City attorney Cheryl Pilate, who represented McIntyre, built her case around misconduct between a local police officer, a prosecutor and a judge.

McIntyre says he’s spent the week since his release spending time with his wife and family, including his mother, Rosie, “eating everything I can,” and enjoying his freedom, “being able to choose to go or come as I like.”

Rosie McIntyre says she worked constantly for her son’s release – even getting help from one of the victim’s mother, who knew McIntyre was innocent – and suffered a couple breakdowns.

“I actually did the time with my son,” she says. “Each and every day.”

Because Kansas is one of 18 states that don’t allow for compensation for the wrongly imprisoned, McIntyre will receive nothing for his time in prison. He says compensation laws are needed because it holds public officials accountable.

“Something has to be done so people understand and be aware of the fact that they have a job to do and if it’s not done right, there has to be consequences and people have to be accountable for what they do,” he says. “But without compensation laws, that’s impossible.”

Asked about what he’s noticed most in the 23 years since he’s been in prison, McIntyre says it’s that everyone is looking at their smartphone.

“I noticed people don’t pay attention no more. Everyone’s occupied with something,” he says. “Everyone’s walking with their heads down, people running over you in traffic. Traffic is scary. No one’s paying attention anymore. So that’s kinda weird.”

As for his future, McIntyre says he will finish his education, get his barber’s license and hopefully, go into radio or podcasting.

His mother says her next step is to make her son’s favorite food: sweet potato pie.

Peggy Lowe is KCUR's investigations editor. She can be reached on Twitter @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.