Strickland a

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Strickland then, and now.

A lawyer has set up a fundraiser for a man in the US who served almost 43 years in jail, for a triple murder that he did not commit. 

Kevin Strickland, now 62, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Missouri court, having been wrongly arrested for the crime when he was aged 18.

Strickland was found guilty of murders at a home in Kansas City in April 1978. Assailants shot three people dead inside the home. A fourth victim, Cynthia Douglas, escaped after pretending to be dead. Douglas identified Strickland as one of the murderers in a police line-up, but later said she had been pressured by the police into picking him.

However, no physical evidence linked Strickland to the crime scene, and prints on the shotgun were not his. Strickland said he had been at home watching TV at the time, and always maintained his innocence. 

Many years later, Douglas wanted to recant her testimony and said that "things were not clear back then, but now I know more and would like to help this person if I can." However, she died before she could formally recant her testimony. Douglas' mother, sister and daughter all testified in court that Douglas picked "the wrong guy".  

At the first trial in 1979, there was a hung jury, as one black juror held out for Strickland's acquittal. But at the second trial, an all-white jury found Strickland guilty of murder.

Strickland's conviction has now been reviewed, and under a new law in Missouri, he was exonerated and released on Tuesday after serving 15,487 days behind bars. 

Strickland's lawyer, Tricia Rojo Bushnell, who specialises in wrongful convictions, has helped set up a GoFundMe page for Strickland. Bushnell has highlighted that Strickland will not receive compensation from the state, and he has no savings or ability to show work history for social security entitlements. 

When Strickland was freed, he told reporters that he was “thankful for God walking me through this for 43 years”.

“I’m not necessarily angry,” he added. “It’s a lot. I think I’ve created emotions that you all don’t know about just yet. Joy, sorrow, fear. I am trying to figure out how to put them together.” He said he would like to get involved in any projects to “keep this from happening to someone else” and that the US criminal justice system “needs to be torn down and redone”.

The GoFundMe page, which currently stands at just over $1.7m, is here.

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