October 9, 2017

Convicted 23 years ago, Kansas prisoner’s case exposes deeply flawed justice

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Photo courtesy of Cheryl Pilate

Lamonte McIntyre.

A Kansas City, Kansas man remains locked up for a 1994 double murder despite substantial evidence that he is innocent, and was convicted only because of a flawed justice system. This is the first of three reports.

Lamonte McIntyre has been locked in a Kansas prison for 23 years, insisting he had nothing do with the murders of two men as they sat in a parked car in Kansas City, Kansas.

His claim of innocence is scheduled for a hearing this week that is likely not only to undercut the evidence leading to his conviction, but also to pull back the curtain on a deeply flawed criminal justice system. Affidavits gathered by McIntyre’s attorneys in advance of the hearing, as well as interviews conducted over the past four months by Injustice Watch, raise questions about every step of the legal process:

  • The police detective who developed the case was known in the community, and even among fellow officers, for sexual encounters with poor and vulnerable black women whom he used as informants.
  • The prosecutor is accused of withholding evidence that cast doubt upon the case, and of threatening one eyewitness with jail or losing her children if she did not testify against McIntyre in court.
  • The trial judge, who shrugged off evidence of a wrongful conviction, had a previous undisclosed affair with the prosecutor.
  • The appointed trial attorney as well as the attorney appointed to represent McIntyre in post-conviction proceedings failed to investigate evidence of their client’s potential innocence, and both lost their law licenses for their shoddy representation in a series of cases.

Prosecutors produced no evidence that McIntyre either knew the victims or had a motive to kill them, though the trial prosecutor, Terra Morehead, told the jury that the killing was a “vendetta.”

Even the families of the victims contend that McIntyre had nothing to do with the crime. Saundra Newsom, mother of one of the two victims, calls the case a “grave injustice,” adding, “There is no justice in this county. The people in charge do not care.”

Gloria Labat, aunt of the other victim, echoed: “I do not believe that Lamonte McIntyre was guilty, and it is wrong that he has been locked up” for so long.

Most startling of all are the widespread allegations of misconduct against the key detective in the case, Roger Golubski, covering a period of years.

Roger Golubski

Roger Golubski

“Golubski’s misconduct and his exploitation of black women was well known throughout the department,” stated retired officer Ruby Ellington in an affidavit. In an interview, Ellington said that it was common knowledge within the force that Golubski used those women as informants.

That concern was echoed by retired Kansas City, Kansas, detective Timothy Maskill, who stated in his own affidavit, “Throughout the Police Department, Roger Golubski was known for having sex with black, drug-addicted prostitutes. I believe the entire Department knew about this. Everyone also knew that Roger Golubski was using these same black, drug-addicted prostitutes as his informants.”

Said Ellington of Golubski’s informants, “We never knew whether the information they provided was true or not.”

Golubski, who retired from the force with the rank of captain in 2010, did not respond to requests from Injustice Watch for comment directly or through his attorney. Golubski was working, post-retirement, for a suburban police department when McIntyre’s attorney, Cheryl Pilate, filed a detailed motion last year to win McIntyre’s release.

Golubski retired from the Edwardsville, Kansas, department last year after the case began to attract attention from the Kansas City Star and other local outlets. But he told The Pitch, a local weekly newspaper, “We adamantly deny” allegations of misconduct involving prostitutes.

The county has its first black district attorney, Mark Dupree, who took office this year. Dupree directed his office to conduct a reinvestigation earlier this year.

Dupree’s spokesman said the district attorney was declining to answer questions by Injustice Watch about the case.

Neighborhood of despair

Photos of the crime scene were presented at trial

Doniel Quinn, 23, and Don Ewing 34, were killed as they sat with a crack pipe in a Cadillac on a side street in an impoverished area on the north side of Kansas City, Kansas.

The neighborhood was founded 150 years earlier as Quindaro, a beacon for slaves fleeing across the river from slavery into freedom. The area was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and a statute of the abolitionist John Brown sits where Freedman University, later known as Western University, once stood.

But those hopeful times had long since passed, and the area by the 1990s was overrun by unemployment, poverty, and crack cocaine. The public radio station described the town in that period:

“The property taxes are the highest in the state. People are moving out as fast as they can pack up the truck, fleeing to nearby Johnson County or over the state line to Missouri. The city government is hit with scandal after scandal, plagued by rumors of patronage and corruption. There isn’t a movie theater or shopping. A new grocery store hadn’t opened in the urban core in decades.”

It was off Quindaro Boulevard– two blocks from a gas station owned by a drug kingpin – that a man wearing black walked down a hill, approached the Cadillac, and opened fire on Quinn and Ewing.

Several officers responded to the scene, interviewing residents on the street who saw part or all of the incident. Among the officers was Detective Golubski, who first joined the department in 1975.

Golubski had a reputation within the department for his informant network in the Quindaro neighborhood. “He had a vast number of informants,” testified former chief Rick Armstrong, in a deposition in an unrelated lawsuit. “If you needed some information, he was someone you could go to and he could find that information out.”

Another former chief, Ronald Miller, testified in that same case: “Golubski kept his informants close to the vest,” but “everybody knew Golubski had an informant network.”

Asked in that deposition about his knowledge of Golubski’s relationship with black women in the poor neighborhoods of Kansas City, Miller responded, “That’s not foreign to me. I can’t say I’ve never heard that before.”

Hear Lamonte McIntyre and others discuss the case: Wrongful Conviction produced this work in collaboration with Injustice Watch

Doubts about the evidence

McIntyre was convicted on the word of two women who lived on the street of run-down houses where the shooting occurred, and identified McIntyre in court as the shotgun-wielding killer. Doubts about their testimony, and Golubski’s role in securing it, are at the heart of the case.

McIntyre had spent years in custody before he and his mother made contact with Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey organization formed by Jim McCloskey, a former businessman who had entered the seminary and became active in helping free a wrongly convicted New Jersey man. McCloskey became active in the case and enlisted in the cause Kansas City attorney Cheryl Pilate, who devotes much of her practice to wrongful convictions and representing defendants on death row.

Over the past seven years, Pilate — first with McCloskey, and then with assistance from the Midwest Innocence Project — has spent thousands of hours on the case of Lamonte McIntyre. She has built her case around dozens of affidavits she and, earlier, McCloskey collected that paint a sordid picture.

In sixteen interviews with Injustice Watch, as well as in the affidavits, local residents contend that Roger Golubski routinely went into the poor black neighborhoods of Kansas City, Kansas using his badge to seek sex from vulnerable black women. His reputation, many witnesses say, was well known throughout the community.

Eight different women describe sexual acts with Golubski whom he met while investigating crimes or after he stopped them on the street to question them and offered an alternative to arrest.

Courtesy of Cheryl Pilate

One of several affidavits accusing officer Golubski of sexual misconduct.

“From time to time he asked me if I knew anything about shootings,” one woman stated in an affidavit. “But mostly he was interested in sexual relations.” After interrogating another woman about a murder, Golubski “kept contacting me and showing up at my house…he kept after me until I agreed to go out with him,” she wrote.

Three other affidavits describe Golubski harassing for favors other women he met on the job, but who turned him down. “He tried to flirt with me, too, and let me know he wanted to have sex with me,” one woman’s affidavit states. “I was only 16 or 17 at the time. I told him ‘no.’”

“What is striking,” said Michael Bussell, a retired detective from a suburban Kansas police department, “is the number of people who don’t know each other who tell the same story.” Bussell, who has helped Pilate on the investigation, said that he went into the case skeptical of the accusations. “Not anymore,” he added.

The accusers include people connected to McIntyre’s case. Newsom, the mother of Doniel Quinn, wrote in her affidavit, “Detective Golubski is infamous in the black community for being a corrupt police officer.”

She described Golubski coming to her door weeks after the arrest, when “he had no legitimate reason” to visit. They had never met before, she recalled. As she tells it: “He said to me: ‘You are a very attractive black woman. Do you ever go out with white men?’”

Encounter while parked

Lamonte McIntyre’s mother worries that her own encounter with Golubski may have influenced him to wrongly charge her son.

In an affidavit and then in an interview with Injustice Watch, Rosie McIntyre recalled sitting in a car some years earlier with her boyfriend when Golubski came up and shined a flashlight on them. He ordered her to come to his car, where he told her he could have her boyfriend arrested unless she came to the police station to see him the next day.

McIntyre contended that Golubski made it clear that he sought sexual favors from her. She went back to the car “scared and terrified,” she said.

Then-boyfriend Gregory Hill signed his own affidavit, recalling Golubski knocked on the car window as Hill and Rosie McIntyre were sitting inside. He said Golubski directed McIntyre to come to his police car, where they sat for several minutes. Hill stated that he was told to wait in his own car.

Several minutes later, Hill wrote in the affidavit, McIntyre returned to his car “shaken and very upset.” She told Hill that Golubski had “come on to her,” but that nothing happened, according to the affidavit.

McIntyre, in her affidavit and interview, said she arrived at the station the following night, as Golubski had directed. Golubski, she recalled, led her to his office where he closed the door, turned the lights out, and “pulled my clothes down and performed the sexual act on me while I was sitting in a chair.” She said she felt she had no choice but to submit, that it was a “forced act.”

McIntyre recalled that at one point a uniformed officer walked into the office, then backed out and closed the door when he saw what was occurring.

After it was over, Golubski told her that he wished for “an ongoing sexual relationship,” Rosie McIntyre’s affidavit states. He “harassed me for weeks, often calling me two or three times a day.” McIntyre said she “knew that there was no one I could complain to, as Golubski was known to be very powerful in the community and in the police department.”

The affidavit concludes, “I do believe that if I had complied with his request for me to become his ‘woman,’ that my son would likely not be in prison today.”

Another woman states in her affidavit that when she was 15, Golubski “tried to force me to give a false account in a homicide case, trying to get me to say that I saw a shooting that I did not witness.” The affidavit goes on: “What was really troubling is that Detective Golubski had focused on a particular suspect and was trying to tell me that I should identify that suspect.”

The wrong Lamont?

There are significant reasons to doubt the statements of the two women whom Golubski helped develop as the key witnesses against McIntyre.

A composite of the shooting suspect created by police from an eyewitness account.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on April 15, 1994, several Kansas City, Kansas police officers were dispatched to the scene where the bodies of Ewing and Quinn were left in the blood-splattered Cadillac.

Ruby Mitchell, who lived down the street, told police that she was standing at the door to her house when a man dressed in a black shirt and black pants came down the hill and fired the fatal shots. Mitchell said she immediately called police, and told Detective James Krstolich that she could identify the man if she saw him again.

Mitchell was taken to the station where, according to trial testimony, the police created a composite likeness based on her description. The police then showed Mitchell five photographs, and she picked out one, a photograph of Lamonte McIntyre.

Lamont lineup

The photo lineup shown to eyewitnesses. Lamonte McIntyre is pictured in the center.

A tape recorded interview of Mitchell resumes just before 6:00 p.m., about three hours after she was taken to the station. Detective Krstolich asks Mitchell to repeat on tape what he said she told him after the first recording had ended: That she almost called out “Lamont” when she saw the shooter, because she recognized him as a young man “who used to try to talk to my niece.”

She then is asked on tape about her identification of the photograph of Lamonte McIntyre:

Q: Are you absolutely sure this is the party who did the shooting?

A: Yes.

Q: Who is this party?

A: Lamont.

Q: Do you know his last name?

A: Yes.

Q: What is it?

A: McIntyre.

Q: How do you know this party?

A: Because he used to talk to my niece.

Q: How long have you known him?

A: For a couple months.

Q: Once again, you are absolutely sure this is the party?

A: Yes.

But, it would turn out, Lamonte McIntyre had never “talked to” Mitchell’s niece. That was a different Lamont — Lamont Drain.

At trial, Mitchell attempted to clarify the confusion: As she examined the composite that was created from the description she gave to police, she realized that the man who had pulled the trigger was not the Lamont who talked to her niece.

Instead, Mitchell testified, the man whom she saw fire the shotgun was the man whose photo she selected, Lamonte McIntyre. She said that though the Lamontes looked alike to her, she was certain of her identification. She testified that she had never seen Lamonte McIntyre before and did not know his last name until she identified him, though she had inexplicably said “McIntyre” in her recorded statement to police.

“If Lamonte McIntyre’s name was Henry or Leroy, he likely would not be sitting in prison today,” said defense investigator Bussell recently.

Mitchell could not be reached by Injustice Watch. But in 2011, she provided an affidavit to investigators for McIntyre, in which she called it “very puzzling” and of “grave concern” that the hairstyle worn by Lamonte McIntyre did not match the suspect’s hairstyle.

In her affidavit, Mitchell added one more item: On the way to the police station, she said, Golubski had told her she was attractive and asked if she dated white men – the same question that other women have quoted Golubski asking.

“I was afraid of what Detective Golubski had in mind,” the affidavit states. “Was he going to arrest me for solicitation or was he going to offer me money for sex?, I wondered. My fear was running way with me.”

Randy Eskina, a former homicide detective who retired from the Kansas City, Kansas department as a police captain, reviewed the file on behalf of McIntyre and “noted multiple errors, failures and deviations from accepted police practices” in the investigation of the murders, and said the police interviews gave “rise to a very substantial risk of misidentification.”

In his affidavit, Eskina is particularly critical of the photographic spread, which did not include Lamont Drain but included three photographs of members of McIntyre’s family — Lamonte, his brother, and a cousin. Eskina called the failure to include Lamont Drain’s photograph “a glaring and inexplicable error,” and said of the inclusion of several McIntyres: “I have never seen a photographic array constructed in this manner before, and I believe it to be improper.”

And he said of the fact that Mitchell said the name “Lamonte McIntyre” on tape, “Because Ms. Mitchell did not know Lamonte McIntyre and had never heard of him, it appears the only place she could have obtained that information was from a detective or by viewing the back side of McIntyre’s photo.”

Other eyewitnesses saw shooting

Ruby Mitchell was not the only resident of Hutchings Street who witnessed the shooting.

Josephine Quinn, who was Doniel Quinn’s aunt, had been up the street, arguing with one of her brothers, when the shooting broke out. Josephine lived almost directly across the street from the shooting; one of her daughters, Stacy Quinn, was in the house at the time.

Another daughter, Niko Quinn, who lived up Hutchings Street from her mother and sister, was walking up the street and saw the shooting.

Police reports show that Josephine Quinn told a detective at the scene that when the shooting occurred she “turned to try to get a look” at the shooter, but was unable because “he had turned at that time and had ran.” Niko Quinn told the detective that she had seen the shooter, clad in all black; while she had never seen the shooter before, she told the detective, she could identify him.

The detectives did not talk further with any of the Quinns that day, the reports show. Once Mitchell selected McIntyre, the officers were ready to bring in Lamonte McIntyre.

 A place where nothing goes right

Maxine Crowder was sitting on her porch on the afternoon of April 15, 1994, when several police officers showed up at her home asking the whereabouts of her grandson, Lamonte McIntyre.

Crowder said in a recent interview that she had grown up in Memphis, riding in the back of the bus; she and her husband moved to Kansas City, Kansas as a young couple, seeking a better life for their children. But, as she recalled recently: “It turned out to be a place where nothing goes right, where there is no hope.”

When the police arrived she called her daughter, Rosie McIntyre, who was working at Fifi’s Restaurant. “I said she needed to go find Lamonte and bring him down to clear this up,” Maxine Crowder recalled in a recent interview telling her daughter. The police did not say why they wanted Lamonte.

Rosie McIntyre, who was also present for the interview, said that after her mother called she left the restaurant and went to the home of Lamonte’s aunt, where he often hung out. The two of them got in the car and headed to the police station; on the way, Rosie McIntyre recalled, as they drove past Fifi’s Restaurant, they saw police cars gathered and McIntyre pulled into the lot.

She told the officers that Lamonte was in the car with her, according to her account. In his report, Detective Golubski wrote that Rosie McIntyre told officers then that Lamonte had been with her that day at Fifi’s, and therefore couldn’t have been involved in a crime. Rosie McIntyre insists she never said any such thing.

Whatever the case, police took McIntyre into custody based on the identification of Ruby Mitchell. He was wearing a black tee-shirt, tan pants and white sneakers — not the all-black outfit described by the witnesses.

After being questioned briefly, he was charged with two counts of murder.

TUESDAY: Lamonte McIntyre goes through a flawed court process.