Midwest Innocence Project | KCUR

Midwest Innocence Project

The Midwest Innocence Project

After decades in prison for a 1996 double murder in Kansas City, Missouri, he says he didn't commit, Ricky Kidd said he has a new hope.

"For the first time in 23 years, I feel like I had my day in court," he told KCUR over the phone from Crossroads Correctional Facility in Cameron, Missouri.

His renewed hope comes after a recent, long-awaited hearing for a civil lawsuit against the state, which claims that Kidd's custody is illegal because his conviction was illegally obtained.

Eddie Lowery

Eddie Lowery was a soldier stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1982, when he was sentenced to 11-years to-life in prison after being convicted of aggravated rape, assault and burglary.

He had not committed the crime.

"You’re just wondering why this happens to you. Why?" Lowery says. "Why didn't the system protect you when you’re in the interrogation room telling them you’re innocent?"

Segment 1: A Kansas bill aims to make the state the nation's first to check new-case DNA evidence with connection to closed cases.  

Currently, biological evidence from current crimes is not investigated when it produces a hit in the DNA database on a case that already has a conviction. Kansas lawmakers want to audit what's happening when those hits arise and the potential to help exonerate innocent people. 

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Richard Jones, who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, is getting $1.1 million from the state of Kansas. It’s the first payment made under the state’s new mistaken-conviction statute.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

John Grisham's career has taken him from attorney, to Mississippi state representative, to best-selling author. Today, we speak with the acclaimed writer about his latest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar, which explores the underbelly tactics of for-profit law schools.

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.”

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

Missouri Supreme Court Delays Hearing In Ricky Kidd Case

Jul 13, 2017

A hearing to determine whether a Kansas City man is being unlawfully held in prison by the state is now on hold.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order staying the hearing of Ricky Kidd, who was found guilty in 1997 of two murders and sentenced to life in prison.

If you're charged with a crime and can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Because in our judicial system, we're supposed to be presumed innocent. But in Missouri, critics say the state's public defender system isn't doing it's job. One Kansas City man believes that system's failures lead to his life sentence. So what's going on in Missouri?

Guests:

Bigstock

Ricky Kidd has been in prison for nearly half his 42 years. And for all of that time, he has maintained he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted: the murders of two men in broad daylight at a house on Kansas City’s east side.

Richard Jones greets lawyers and supporters after a Jackson  County District Judge freed him Thursday.
Courtesy Midwest Innocence Project

A Kansas City man sentenced to 19 years in prison for a purse snatching was freed by a Kansas judge on Wednesday after he found the man was wrongly convicted.

Richard A. Jones had spent nearly 16 years in prison for a crime he said he did not commit.

Kathleen Masterson / NPR

This story was updated at 5:22 p.m.   

Thanks to an unusual feature of class action law, the Midwest Innocence Project and Legal Aid of Western Missouri have received nearly $659,000 apiece in leftover proceeds from a consumer fraud case.

The money represents the single largest donation in the roughly 15-year history of Midwest Innocence Project (MIP), a Kansas City-based nonprofit that works to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners and whose total operating budget last year was $550,000.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

An Oskaloosa man imprisoned for a crime his brother committed is suing the Jefferson County law enforcement officials and others who pursued his wrongful conviction.

“You go from being Floyd Scott Bledsoe to Bledsoe 70545,” said Floyd Bledsoe, who spent 15 years in prison for the murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann in 1999.

Bledsoe’s brother, Tom Bledsoe, first confessed to the murder, then later recanted. In a November 2015 suicide note, Tom Bledsoe again confessed to raping and murdering Arfmann.

Steve Kraske / KCUR 89.3

On Monday, July 28, 2003, Joe Amrine was released from prison, after serving 17 years on death row for a murder he did not commit.

Four days later, shell-shocked from his first few days of freedom and swarms of media attention, Amrine appeared on KCUR’s Up To Date with Steve Kraske, wearing sunglasses.

“I didn’t want people to see the fear in my eyes,” Amrine says.

Amrine returned to Up To Date this week to give a glimpse of what life looks like for him after 13 years of freedom.

Netflix

Both the podcast Serial and Netflix documentary Making a Murderer have brought unprecedented attention to the work of organizations like the Kansas City-based Midwest Innocence Project.

Founded more than a decade ago at the UMKC Law School, the Project works to exonerate those people its staff believe have been wrongly convicted. 

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

One of Summer Farrar's first assignments as a student at the Kansas City Art Institute was to draw the same pile of sticks every day for a few weeks.

The task, she says, turned out to be revelatory. 

"What it demonstrated was that you have to look at something over and over again until you see it differently," she told Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard

Farrar never could have guessed then just how useful that lesson would turn out to be in a career that has taken a striking professional turn.