KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An appeals court has denied a request from the Missouri attorney general's office that all judges in Jackson County be disqualified from hearing local prosecutors argue Kevin Strickland is innocent.
The attorney general had appealed Judge Kevin Harrell's decision to not recuse himself and other Jackson County judges. The office, under Eric Schmitt, contended there was an appearance of bias in the 16th Circuit Court because its presiding judge, Dale Youngs, has said he "concurs on behalf" of the court that Strickland, 62, should be exonerated.
The latest denial means Jackson County prosecutors will still have the opportunity to argue before Harrell that Strickland has wrongly spent more than 40 years in prison. An evidentiary hearing, which could lead to Strickland's freedom, is set to start Oct. 5.
The attorney general's office, which argues Strickland is guilty, said it will appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
In its filing to the Missouri Court of Appeals' Western District, the attorney general's office had argued that by publicizing Youngs' comment, prosecutor Jean Peters Baker's office created a "public expectation that Strickland will be released because he is innocent." Harrell has said, though, he was not aware of Youngs' statement until it became an issue in his courtroom.
On Wednesday, The Kansas City Star reported that the publisher of The Call, Kansas City's Black newspaper, is among two witnesses prosecutors plan to call to the stand during the evidentiary hearing. That's because the lone eyewitness to the triple murder for which Strickland remains imprisoned recanted to him twice, he said.(c)2021 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.