High profile Missouri cases get a national audience

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Two high-profile cases from Missouri were featured on CBS Sunday morning last weekend. Prosecutors have been calling for the release of two men they believe are innocent in unrelated cases.

The segment’s YouTube Description states:

“48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty talks with two Missouri men, Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson, who have served a combined 70 years in prison for murders most people now believe they did not commit. And yet, even though prosecutors have called for their release, innocence may not be enough to earn them their freedom – both men are still behind bars. So, what’s going on in the state of Missouri?”

YouTube

Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says addressing the clemency petition for Kevin Strickland isn’t a “priority,” even though prosecutors say Strickland didn’t commit the triple murder that put him behind bars more than four decades ago.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office says longtime inmate Kevin Strickland is guilty of killing three people in Kansas City in 1978. Last week Assistant Attorney General Andrew Clarke asked a judge to deny a petition seeking to exonerate Strickland and free him from prison.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, prosecutors who convicted Strickland, and other officials have said Strickland is innocent and should be released. The attorney general’s office said Baker’s office has avoided, overlooked, or misinterpreted evidence in the case against Strickland.

The filing likely means a hearing will be held before Circuit Judge Ryan Horsman, who will decide whether to free Strickland.

The effort to free Lamar Johnson, who has spent 26 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit hit another roadblock after the Missouri Supreme Court refused to grant a new trial. The ruling was issued in March.

Johnson was convicted in a 1994 killing. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has said she is duty-bound to correct past wrongs, including what she believes was the wrongful conviction of Johnson.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office argued successfully that Gardner lacks the authority to seek a new trial so many years after the case was adjudicated.

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