KANSAS CITY, KS (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor who helped free a man who spent 23 years in prison for a double homicide he always said he didn't commit is calling for justice as the state fights the man's effort to get compensation.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. described the case of Lamonte McIntyre as a "glaring stain on the criminal justice system" in an open letter Tuesday.
"Criminal justice reform means progressing past politics and focusing on true justice," Dupree wrote. He added that: "It is my hope the State will ignore the optics and adversaries and allow justice to fully manifest for Mr. McIntyre."
McIntyre was 17 in 1994 when he was arrested in Kansas City for the killings of 21-year-old Doniel Quinn and 34-year-old Donald Ewing, who were shot in broad daylight. McIntyre was sentenced to two life sentences in their deaths, but he was freed in 2017 after Dupree asked the court to vacate his convictions and to drop all charges midway through an exoneration hearing, calling his case an example of "manifest injustice." Prosecutors presented no physical evidence tying McIntyre to the killings and their case largely hinged on testimony that was allegedly coerced.
The case was one of three that helped lead the Legislature last year to allow the wrongfully convicted to seek compensation. The law provides for $65,000 for each year a person spent behind bars, along with health insurance benefits, financial assistance for higher education and various social services.
The state attorney general's office supported the compensation claims of the other two men, allowing the court to quickly grant them money and officially declare them innocent. But it has objected to McIntyre's claims.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's spokesman, C.J. Grover, acknowledged in a statement on Monday that in some instances, the attorney general's office has asked the court to expedite approval. But he wrote that in McIntyre's case, the prior court record was insufficient for Schmidt to determine that the requirements for a payout had been met, The Kansas City Star reported.
"There is widespread knowledge and understanding of Lamonte's innocence and taking this position is just baffling to me," said McIntyre's attorney, Cheryl Pilate.
Earlier this month, Schmidt's office filed notices of its intent to request subpoenas to Kansas City, Kansas, police, and others. The subpoenas also seek the medical records of a man whom the victims' family has said is the real shooter.
Grover said that evaluating McIntyre's case has been more time-consuming because the factual record in the last court that reviewed his criminal case wasn't fully developed. Dupree dropped the case before testimony regarding possible law enforcement misconduct.
McIntyre's case appears likely to continue well into next year. A hearing has been scheduled for September 2020 and a discovery deadline of Oct. 23, 2020, has been proposed.
State Rep. Cindy Holscher, an Olathe Democrat, said lawmakers will keep a focus on McIntyre.
"We don't want Lamonte to be forgotten," Holscher said.