Missouri inmate says death sentence could have led to freedom

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Dozens of people rallied Monday at the state capitol to raise awareness for two inmates who say they are innocent. However, there were a handful of people there trying to bring attention to a third inmate who they also say is innocent.

Family and friends of Chris Dunn were on hand at the rally. Dunn is serving a life sentence plus 90 years for the 1990 murder of a St. Louis teenager named Recco Rogers.

Dunn has been behind bars for 31 years.

Dunn told KCTV that he is innocent and claims it would have been legally better if he had been sentenced to death.

KCTV reports a judge agrees he’s proven he is legally innocent under what is considered a “freestanding claim of innocence”.

The News Tribune is reporting Dunn’s sister was in the crowd yesterday. She told the paper prosecutors relied on witness testimony to convict Dunn and those witnesses have both recanted their statements.

However, the TV station reports a judge refuses to free Dunn pointing to confusing laws regarding innocence claims. The judge says the Missouri law is only clear in death penalty cases, not a life sentence which Dunn is serving.

The crowd was also there to rally around Lamar Johnson and Kevin Strickland. Those attending the event say the two Missourians were wrongfully convicted and should be released.

The rally came two days after Senate Bill 53 went into effect. It allows prosecutors to ask a judge to overturn or revisit wrongful convictions.

A Missouri prosecutor is asking a judge to exonerate Strickland.

Strickland was arrested in 1978, accused of killing three people in Kansas City. The killings occurred when a group of assailants ransacked a Kansas City home. Larry Ingram, 21; John Walker, 20; and Sherrie Black, 22, were fatally shot. Cynthia Douglas, the only eyewitness, was wounded but pretended to be dead.

In an investigation published in September, The Kansas City Star reported that for decades, two men who pleaded guilty in the killings swore Strickland was not with them and two other accomplices during the killings. Douglas later said detectives pressured her into identifying Strickland as the shooter, The Star reported. She tried to recant for years before her death in 2015.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker filed a motion Monday to free Kevin Strickland from a Missouri prison after 43 years.

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