KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) – What does a handshake inside a church really mean?
Lamonte McIntyre spent half of his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit, but after serious allegations of police corruption leading to this wrongful conviction, McIntyre was freed.
The state of Kansas promised to pay McIntyre for the justice system stealing more than half of his life, but at the moment, that appears to be all talk. McIntyre has not yet received a dime.
McIntyre spent 23 years in prison for 1994 double-murder before his conviction was vacated and charges were dismissed against him in 2017, enter the system as a 17-year-old and leaving as a middle-aged man.
“You get out, you are 40-something years old. What to you do?” he told KCTV5 News. “I had to fight to get my life back. And now I got to fight for compensation when it’s a law.”
McIntyre now works as a barber, a trade he picked up in prison. He has tremendous family support an amazing legal team, but what he does not have is compensation from the state that wrongfully convicted and imprisoned him.
That surprises many in Kansas since McIntyre’s wrongful conviction prompted new legislation. Then-Governor Jeff Colyer even held a media event inside McIntyre’s church and signed the bill into law, even shaking hands with McIntyre.
“When we signed it, I thought, you know, it seemed like there would be a quick process because that’s what the bill was in place for,” he explained to KCTV5 News. “It was supposed to be something quick so people could actually start to get on their feet and start to rebuild and start their life over.”
The Midwest Innocence Project lauded the bill as the “gold-standard wrongful conviction compensation law,” which would explain why Tricia Bushnell, the group’s executive director, is so frustrated that McIntyre is still waiting on the state.
“I just don’t understand how that works,” Bushnell said. “That is the very point of this bill, that is why bill passed, and it was passed for Lamonte!”
The new law provides money, health care and education to help people start over. McIntyre says he could use the help.
His legal team filed paperwork months ago, but the state attorney general’s office responded that the petition “does not contains separately number paragraphs” and that “the claimant was convicted of those crimes.”
The AG also responded that McIntyre’s claim “is without sufficient information to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.”
The allegations behind McIntyre’s wrongful conviction are awful. Detective Roger Golubski, a powerful and now retired Kansas City, Kansas, police detective, was accused of sexual abuse, vengeance and corruption. Golubski has never publicly responded to the allegations, and he’s never faced any charges.
The mother of one of the victims told KCTV5 News she was horrified at the detective’s behavior and never believed McIntyre was the killer.
When the case went back to court, McIntyre’s legal team was prepared to reveal allegations of dirty police work and a corrupt prosecutor, but once the hearing started, the current prosecutor dropped the charges asking the court to proclaim a manifest of injustice occurred, which was granted.
When KCTV5 News questioned the attorney general’s office about the decision on McIntyre’s claim, they sent the following statement:
The mistaken conviction statute enacted by the Legislature provides for a court, not the attorney general, to determine whether a claimant meets the legal requirements to receive benefits. The statute requires the claimant to prove several facts by a preponderance of the evidence. For some claims, the attorney general has been able to review records of prior judicial proceedings to determine that the claimant has satisfied the requirement for proof, and when that has been possible the attorney general has joined the claimant in asking the court to expedite the process by approving the claim without further fact-finding or trial. However, for other claims, including this one, the record of prior judicial proceedings is insufficient for the attorney general to make that determination; for those claims, the process the Legislature created for a court to evaluate the claim will need to proceed.
Bushnell questions how the AG’s office could come to its decision.
“How could he not be compensated? The evidence of his innocence is overwhelming,” she said. “The prosecutor agreed to it. He came home that day. They joined a motion saying this is a manifest injustice because he is actually innocent!”
McIntyre’s legal team has been extremely clear that legal excuses don’t cut it, with his lawyer Cheryl Pilate sharing this statement with KCTV5 News:
There is nothing in the statute that prevents the Attorney General from independently examining the facts and reaching agreement with the Claimant, in this case, Lamonte McIntyre. There is also nothing in the statute that prevents the Attorney General from conducting its own investigation, including an investigation of the police misconduct that led to the wrongful conviction in Lamonte McIntyre’s case.
For McIntyre, it is another frustration he is facing after already working to overcome so much.
“Not benefiting from it is frustrating, it’s frustrating,” he told KCTV5 News. “I shouldn’t have to fight for that too. I already had to fight for my life.”