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Man visits mother's grave for the first time after spending 43 years in prison, for a murder he didn't commit

Man visits mother's grave for the first time after spending 43 years in prison, for a murder he didn't commit

He was only 19 when he was convicted. "My whole life is a memory of prison. I don't know anything else," he said.

The life of an inmate is all that Kevin Strickland knows after spending more than four decades of his life serving a prison sentence for a triple murder he didn't commit.

Strickland, 62, was watching a soap opera in prison when a breaking news report revealed that he was finally exonerated for the triple murder case that took place on April 25, 1978. That's how Strickland finally found out on Tuesday, November 23, that his wrongful sentencing was finally coming to an end.

The very first thing he did as a free man was visit his mother's grave.

"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," Strickland told CNN.



 

One night spent outside of jail was enough for Strickland to realize that it would take a lot for him to leave behind the confined life in prison, the only life he has known since he was a teenager.

"I'm used to living in a close, confined cell where I know exactly what's going on in there with me," he said. "And being home and you hear the creaks of the home settling and the electrical wiring and whatever else... I was kind of afraid. I thought somebody was coming to get me."



 

Strickland was only 19 years old when he was identified by Cynthia Douglas as one of the men at the scene of the triple murder. But later, Douglas recanted her account and spent about 30 years trying to prove that Strickland was innocent after all.

On April 25, 1978, the day of the homicide, Douglas had gone to a house, a popular hangout spot, with Larry Ingram, 21, John Walker, 20, and Sherrie Black, 22. The group was drinking and smoking when four men entered the house and began firing at them.

Three individuals of the group were killed while Douglas was the lone survivor. She later agreed that Strickland could have been one of the suspects and picked him out of a lineup.

L.R. Strickland (left) and Kevin Strickland (right) (Source: GoFundMe)

Strickland was later found guilty of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life without parole, as reported by CBS News.

Douglas also told the police that two of the perpetrators were Vincent Bell and Kiln Adkins, both of whom confessed in 1979 to being part of the group that committed the murders. They also said Strickland was not part of the group or involved in the triple murder. Douglas also recanted her account and said she wrongly identified him. She tried to prove that Strickland was innocent before passing away in 2015. She had given multiple recantations, which were used in the recent appeal that eventually led to Strickland's conviction being overturned.

After Strickland served 43 years behind bars, retired Missouri Judge James Welsh overturned his conviction.

Source: GoFundMe

"I've been in prison for 43 years. Yeah, it's tough, it's real tough," Strickland said earlier in October, according to CBS News. "It hurts... I can't get that 43 back. There's nothing that they could do to make that right. My whole life is a memory of prison. I don't know anything else."

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds to help Strickland get back on his feet.

Cover image source: GoFundMe

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