Kevin Strickland left a Missouri prison penniless on Tuesday after serving more than 40 years for a triple murder that he did not commit, but more than 20,000 strangers have donated about $1.3 million to an online fund-raiser to help his re-entry to society.
He was exonerated without DNA evidence, which disqualified him from being compensated by the state, despite spending decades behind bars, his lawyers said. Strickland, 62, said on Friday that the community did not owe him anything for his wrongful imprisonment.
“The courts failed me and that’s who should be trying to make my life a little more comfortable,” he said. “I really do appreciate the donations and contributions they made to try to help me acclimate to society.”
The online fund-raiser, organised by the Midwest Innocence Project, was set up by Tricia Rojo Bushnell, one of his lawyers and the project’s executive director. Bushnell said she routinely raised funds for newly released clients but the amount raised for Strickland was a surprise.
Strickland does not yet have a bank account, a phone or a form of government identification. For now, he is staying at a brother’s house. Strickland will receive the full amount of the donations as soon as he has a bank account to transfer it into, Bushnell said.