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The Government Says These Missouri Men Are Innocent. It Won't Release Them From Prison.

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Billy Binion | 8.4.2021 5:26 PM

Kevin Strickland, Christopher Dunn, and Lamar Johnson all have something in common: they all have spent decades in the Missouri prison system, they all maintain their innocence, and the cases that led to their convictions have all fallen apart. Yet the men remain behind bars with no release in sight despite various government actors suggesting they should have their verdicts overturned.

It's hard to cook up a more nightmarish scenario.

Dunn was convicted in 1991 of the murder of Ricco Rogers, who was shot while on a neighborhood porch when Dunn was 18. The lone evidence against Dunn: the testimony of two boys who said later that they had been coerced by prosecutors and the police.

"Coupled with the evidence in the record that Petitioner had an alibi," wrote Texas County (Missouri) Circuit Court Judge William E. Hickle in a habeas corpus ruling issued last fall. "This Court does not believe that any jury would now convict Christopher Dunn under these facts."

But Hickle's finding is not enough to set Dunn free, thanks to a Missouri Supreme Court precedent that holds such "freestanding" claims of innocence be limited to prisoners on death row. In other words, had Dunn been sentenced to die for the 1990 crime, he would be in a more advantageous position today. Instead, he received life without parole and thus has no........

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