A man who was cleared of a triple-murder conviction after spending 43 years in prison is set to become a millionaire just days after his release, thanks to a viral crowdfunding campaign.
Kevin Strickland, 62, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of Sherrie Black, Larry Ingram, and John Walker in Missouri in 1979, despite a lack of physical evidence against him. This week, a judge officially exonerated him of the crime, after it became apparent that another man had likely committed the murders and the only eyewitness in the case asked to recant her testimony.
It’s believed that Strickland’s case is the longest wrongful imprisonment in Missouri state history. Yet, despite wrongfully spending almost half a century in prison, Strickland is not eligible for state financial support as he was not exonerated using DNA evidence.
As a result, those working to help Strickland were left to set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations, noting that after being ‘deprived for years of family and friends and the ability to establish oneself professionally, the nightmare does not end upon release’.
With the majority of his family members now dead, and with Strickland himself using a wheelchair most of the time, and having had no experience of life outside prison as an adult, the Midwest Innocence Project had initially set a target of $7,200 to help get the 62-year old settled in a home with basic provisions.
However as news of Strickland’s case gained national attention in the media, donations began to flood in; the fundraiser has now raised $1.3 million.
In an update to the GoFundMe page following Strickland’s release, the Midwest Innocence Project thanked donors for their support, adding ‘all funds go directly to Mr. Strickland, who the state of Missouri won’t provide a dime to for the 43 years they stole from him’.
Following his release, Strickland told CNN the first place he went to was the grave of his mother, who died earlier this year. ‘To know my mother was underneath that dirt and I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit with her in the last years… I revisited those tears that I did when they told me I was guilty of a crime I didn’t commit,’ he said.
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