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Kevin Strickland first to testify at long-awaited hearing

By Angie Ricono, Cyndi Fahrlander

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Kevin Strickland has waited for this day for 43 years.

Finally, a Jackson County judge is weighing evidence in his case. Strickland was convicted of a 1978 triple murder in Kansas City. He has proclaimed his innocence for years, and earlier this year, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker agreed.

Strickland was the first witness to testify in his hearing. He told reporters he never thought this day would come. He testified that he had nothing to do with the murder.

In court, the prosecutor asked Strickland, “were you one of the men who entered the home?’

“By no means was I anywhere close to that crime scene,” answered Strickland.

“Did you go to the scene and wait in the car,” asked Peters Baker.

“By no means was I anywhere close to that crime scene,” answered Strickland.

Then, Peters Baker asked Strickland if he knew that two men pleaded guilty to the murders, and asked him why he didn’t also make a plea deal.

“I wasn’t about to plead guilty to a crime I had absolutely nothing to do with,” Strickland testified. “At 18 years old, I knew that system worked. So I knew I would be vindicated. I would wouldn’t be found guilty of a crime I didn’t commit. I would not take a plea deal and admit to something I did not do.”

Attorneys for the Missouri Attorney General’s office deny Strickland is innocent. The questioned the validity of an email that the surviving witness, Cynthia Douglas, allegedly sent to the Midwest Innocence Project.

But in afternoon testimony, family members of Douglas said that Cynthia Douglas was pressured by police to name Strickland as one of the men who barged into the house that night.

“We were talking, she said, ‘Mother, I picked the wrong guy. The officer told me that was the guy,’ “ said Senoria Douglas.

Sherrie Jordan, Cynthia Douglas’ daughter also testified, “She started saying (that) Kevin Strickland was the wrong guy. And she was trying to get him out, by going through the right procedures.”

But Cynthia Douglas died in 2015.

The hearing continues on Tuesday.

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