Cousins who claim to be innocent released on parole after 25 years in prison

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Two cousins who claim to be framed in a 1997 Kansas City, Kansas, murder were freed from prison this morning on parole.

Brian Betts and Celester McKinney each spent more than 25 years in prison for the murder of Greg Miller. No physical evidence connected them to the crime, and the two have long professed their innocence.

Now that they’re free, they both vow to clear their names. But first, a celebration of freedom with family.

The two served the last ten years in separate Kansas prisons. Betts was in Winfield and McKinney was in Norton. They reunited at a restaurant in KCK this afternoon and embraced.

“To be where we ain’t in chains no more,” said Betts. “We couldn’t hug, you know, so (now) thank God.”

“I prayed and God answered my prayers,” said McKinney.

When asked what he most appreciated about the day, McKinney was quick to respond: “Just the freedom to be able to be able to move around and not have no handcuffs on, and just the freedom. It’s beautiful.”

The cousins recently lost a court battle asking a judge to overturn their convictions. The key eyewitness, their own uncle, says he was pressured by detectives to lie about his nephews. The uncle identified retired detective Roger Golubski as one detective who pressured him.

The murder victim was Golubski’s nephew by marriage. Golubski now faces a list of federal charges related to rape, kidnapping and sex trafficking. While the judge acknowledged a “cloud of doubt” surrounding Golubski, he ruled there was not enough evidence to free the cousins.

While the men are out on parole, they hope this is not the end of their stories. They have plans to rebuild their lives and work to be exonerated.

The Midwest Innocence Project is now a part of the legal challenge. They directly represent Celester McKinney.