Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says addressing the clemency petition for a man who’s been behind bars for a triple murder for more than four decades is not a "priority," even though prosecutors say he didn't commit the crime. Parson noted that Kevin Strickland, 62, was tried "by a jury of his peers" and found guilty. But he added that he knew there was "a lot more information out there." Strickland applied for clemency Tuesday, saying he does not want his sentence commuted. Anything less than a full pardon “would leave an unjust and undeserved stain on my criminal record," he wrote. Parson has a backlog of about 3,000 clemency requests and has been issuing a group of pardons monthly. "When something like that comes up, we look at those cases, but I don’t know that that necessarily makes it a priority to jump in front of the line," Parson said during a Monday news conference.
Strickland has maintained his innocence since he was convicted in the April 1978 deaths of three people in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reported in September that two men who pleaded guilty in the killings for decades swore Strickland was not with them and two other accomplices during the shooting. The only eyewitness also recanted and wanted Strickland released. In a petition filed with the Missouri Supreme Court in May, defense attorneys also noted that prosecutors removed the only four Black potential jurors from the trial for Strickland, who is Black. If Strickland is released, he will not be eligible for compensation from the state. Missouri compensates only inmates who are exonerated through DNA evidence, according to the Midwest Innocence Project.
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