Kevin Strickland was released from a Missouri jail destitute on Tuesday after serving more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder he did not commit, but more than 20,000 strangers have given over $1.3 million to an internet fund-raiser to aid his reintegration into society.
Despite spending decades in prison, he was exonerated without DNA proof, which prohibited him from receiving state compensation, according to his attorneys. On Friday, Mr. Strickland, 62, stated that the society owed him nothing for his illegal imprisonment.
Mr. Strickland described his time in Kansas City as “overwhelming.”
During a phone conversation, he described the sprawl of freeways as “particularly disorienting.” He was on his way to the Independence Center retail mall to spend $25 that had been handed to him. He stated his first purchases outside of prison in more than 40 years would be a package of cough pills and a shower cap.
Tricia Rojo Bushnell, one of his lawyers and the project’s executive director, arranged the internet fund-raiser for the Midwest Innocence Project. Ms. Bushnell said she raises money for freshly released clients on a regular basis, but the amount donated for Mr. Strickland surprised her.
Mr. Strickland lacks a bank account, a phone, or any other kind of official identity. For the time being, he is residing with a sibling.
According to Ms. Bushnell, Mr. Strickland will get the entire sum of the gifts as soon as he has a bank account into which to transfer it. The Midwest Innocence Project will also provide him with a financial expert who will assist him in structuring the funds and deciding how to spend them.
Ms. Bushnell created a packet of encouraging words to go with the numerous gifts.
Mr. Strickland was found guilty in 1979 of the murders of three persons in Kansas City the previous year: Sherrie Black, 22, Larry Ingram, 21, and John Walker, 20. Mr. Strickland was chosen from a lineup by the single eyewitness. Mr. Strickland was given a 50-year sentence to life in prison without the chance of release.
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