KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) — Pete Coones is really enjoying his first days of freedom. He’s catching up with his family and looking at the world through a new lens.
Coones spent 12 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. He’s not a murderer—he’s a victim. New evidence indicates that double murder he was convicted was actually a murder-suicide. A woman named Kathleen Schroll likely killed her husband, then killed herself.
Coones’ legal team says he was let down in so many ways. They point to key facts:
• Kathleen Schroll’s own gun was found near her body
• She had gunshot powder residue on her hands
• Her financial crimes were about to catch up to her
• There’s no evidence Coones was ever at the home where the couple died
• He had an alibi
Coones’ lawyers brought new evidence to light in securing his release, but there is so much that went wrong in the investigation and prosecution.
When announcing the finding that Coones’ should be freed, a tearful judge outlined the problems.
“There are some professions where you cannot have bad apples,” said Branden Bell, an attorney for Coones. “Because if they make a mistake the consequences are devastating.”
Ed Brancart, the prosecutor who tried this case, no longer works in Wyandotte County. He’s now an assistant attorney to the Kansas State Attorney General. We reached out to that office, but they declined to comment.
But Pete Coones has something to say.
“In today’s world it’s all about wins and losses,” said Coones. “If you win by sending an innocent man to prison, is that a win? I don’t think so. I think that’s a terrible loss.”
Prosecutors are rarely held accountable in wrongful convictions. However, information has now been shared with Kansas Disciplinary Administrator. This includes the full petition and the judge’s order.