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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A judge ruled that after more than 40 years behind bars, Kevin Strickland will go free.

Judge Welsh ruled that Strickland’s conviction should be set aside and that Strickland will be immediately released from custody.

An evidentiary hearing to determine whether enough evidence exists to exonerate Kevin Strickland in three murders in 1978 murders took place earlier this month.

Strickland told reporters after the hearing that he felt “really good” about his chances. “I’d say about 80%” chance of being exonerated, he said.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in closing arguments during the hearing that Strickland was guilty of hanging out with the people who committed the murders, but her review of the case convinced her Strickland’s conviction in 1979 was a horrible mistake.

Strickland, who is now 62, has always maintained he was home watching television on the night of April 25, 1978, when the shootings occurred. In testimony on Monday, he again strongly denied that he was involved in the killings.

Gov. Parson commented about today’s ruling. He posted on Facebook that earlier this year he signed SB 53. The bill created a judicial procedure for prosecuting attorneys to use, in cases like this one, where the prosecutor believes that there was a miscarriage of justice and a wrongful conviction was entered.

Parson also said that the Court has made its decision, we respect the decision, and the Department of Corrections will proceed with Mr. Strickland’s release immediately.