JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- Kevin Strickland held a press conference after his release yesterday in which he thanked a number of people, including Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
“It’s humbling but I was doing my job,” said Peters Baker.
After 43 years, Kevin Strickland was finally set free. That is something Peters Baker had a major hand in making happen.
“Someone in my office received this case, started looking at it, told me right away that: 'This one is concerning. We need to keep digging,'” said Peters Baker.
That is what her and her office did, aided by the work of the Missouri Innocence Project and journalists.
By spring this year, they found the answers they needed.
“We were just firmly convinced of this man’s innocence because there was really no piece of evidence that convicted him,” said Peters Baker.
She said that after much time and money wasted, and pushing back this moment for Strickland to be free, it finally happened.
“It’s a system that works, correcting something that didn’t work. But, I was just heartened that it works,” said Peters Baker.
After 43 years, Strickland doesn’t have a dime to his name. Peters Baker encourages people to donate to Strickland’s GoFundMe page but believes that, in the future, Missouri will provide compensation for those wrongfully convicted like neighboring Kansas does.
As she hopes for the best for Strickland, she has a message for him.
“To live his very best life, if he can find some way to trust systems to allow us to help him. He’s going to need it,” said Peters Baker.
She also has a message for those that are still fighting the same fight Strickland was able to finally win.
“Don’t give up hope on your own case and engage your prosecutor. To prosecutors I would say, 'It’s your duty. It's your duty to do this.' To attorneys general I would say, 'It’s your duty to look into those cases,'" said Peters Baker.
Peters Baker said her office has been in contact with the victims involved in this case.
She said, at the end of the day, all four families impacted just wanted her to get this right -- which she confidently believes she did.