A fundraiser for Kevin Strickland, who spent 43 years in prison before a Missouri judge overturned his conviction this week, has raised more than $1.4 million.
The Midwest Innocence Project set up a GoFundMe page for Strickland while fighting for his release. Strickland was convicted for a 1978 triple homicide in Kansas City but has always maintained his innocence.
Strickland served 43 years for the deaths of Sherrie Black, Larry Ingram, and John Walker.
James Welsh, a retired Missouri court of appeals judge, ordered Strickland’s release last Tuesday, finding that evidence used to convict him had been recanted or disproven. Additionally, the key witness in the incident, who survived the shooting, has tried to recant her statement for years, saying police pressured her.
Having been imprisoned for all of his adult life, Strickland has no money, no savings, and isn’t entitled to Social Security benefits because he’s never had a job. Making things worse, Missouri only allows wrongful imprisonment payments to former prisoners freed by DNA evidence.
Strickland’s attorney and executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, Tricia Rojo Bushnell, told The Washington Post that very few people in the state receive compensation for a wrongful conviction.
“The vast majority of folks who are exonerated are exonerated through non-DNA evidence, and the vast majority of crimes do not involve DNA at all,” Bushnell told the Post. “So what we see in Missouri is [that] folks get home and they are provided nothing.”
Strickland told reporters upon his release that he wasn’t upset but “thankful for God walking me through this for 43 years.”
“I’m not necessarily angry,” Strickland told reporters according to The Guardian. “It’s a lot. I think I’ve created emotions that you all don’t know about just yet. Joy, sorrow, fear. I am trying to figure out how to put them together.”
Strickland’s GoFundMe page is filled with positive comments and statements of encouragement, along with donations. The free man added he wants to get involved in efforts to “keep this from happening to someone else.”