This is the third part of an Injustice Watch investigation into the conviction, based on dubious evidence, of a Kansas City, Kansas man, and the confluence of problems in the criminal justice system that led to it. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
“Wrongful Conviction” created this podcast in collaboration with Injustice Watch.
Sitting in prison in Lansing, Kansas, Lamonte McIntyre reads a lot of books, and spends a lot of time trying to make sense of his situation.
“I keep wondering, ‘Why me?’” McIntyre said in a prison interview, describing the impact of being locked up for a double murder 23 years ago that McIntyre insists he had nothing to do with.
“I didn’t know those people who were shot,” he said. “I had nothing to do with this. So how did I end up here?”
It is a question his lawyer, Cheryl Pilate, contends speaks volumes about the quality of the criminal justice system in Kansas City, Kansas. Pilate has gathered dozens of affidavits over the years that indicate widespread corruption in the criminal justice system.
The affidavits show a key detective in the case against McIntyre, Roger Golubski, engaged in widespread acts of misconduct that was known within the police department.
Retired FBI agent Alan Jennerich, who was assigned to the public corruption unit, recalls the “significant challenge” he encountered when he investigated allegations of wide-ranging corruption in the Kansas City, Kansas police department in the early 1990s: “The culture” of the department “tended to protect the wrongdoers.”
Jennerich said he spent time interviewing inmates in the county jail. There, he said in a signed affidavit, “I repeatedly heard about Detective Roger Golubski. He was a well-known detective, and, as my investigation uncovered, he used the authority of his position to extort sexual favors from black females. These women complied with his demands because they knew they would be arrested if they said ‘no.’”
Jennerich, in the affidavit and in an interview, said the women were powerless. Many were prostitutes, and most were drug-addicted. “The women knew that unless they provided what Golubski wanted that he could arrest them and have them held in the jail.”
He said the women “did not feel free to complain to anyone,” believing “the police department would always protect Golubski.”
Jennerich said that the investigation largely ended after the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation left the office, and priorities changed. Jennerich said in the interview that more could and should have been done to end the corruption in the department, but that investigating the police “is not a popular thing to do.”
The district attorney of Wyandotte County, Mark Dupree, would not answer questions about the case of Lamonte McIntyre, nor about whether his office is taking any steps to investigate the wide-ranging allegations of corrupt practices within the department.
Spokesmen for the FBI district office and for the U.S. attorney in Kansas, the office that Jennerich said had diminished interest in department corruption when personnel changed, also declined to comment.
The Kansas City, Kansas police department did not respond to requests for an interview with Injustice Watch. But the current chief, Terry Ziegler, told local television station KCTV-5 that he supported an independent investigation of the allegations.
“I think somebody should take a look at the entire homicide file, the entire case file, the allegations against Golubski, it all needs to looked at,” Ziegler said in the interview. He said the local department is “not in a position to do that,” suggesting the FBI or Kansas state investigators were better able to handle the task.
In the interview, Ziegler also said he wished those allegedly harmed by police misconduct had come forward sooner. “A police department can’t investigate things unless they know about it,” the chief said. “What they put in their affidavits should have come forward years ago. It’s unfortunate it didn’t.”
McIntyre attorney Pilate, who spent years developing sources in the impoverished community of Kansas City, Kansas on behalf of McIntyre, said that she found residents unwilling to come forward because of a combination of fear, a sense of powerlessness, and a perception of racism: “Many residents said to me, ‘Who is going to believe me?’”
But Pilate disputes the idea that the department was unaware of the allegations, as former officers have said the misconduct was no secret. Retired police officer Ruby Ellington, who entered the police academy in the same class with Golubski, stated in an interview and signed affidavit that she gave on behalf of McIntyre that although Golubski’s conduct was well known in the department, “Golubski was perceived as untouchable.”
Retired detective Timothy Maskill contended the administration “turned a blind eye” to Golubski’s activities “because the information that Golubski appeared to be obtaining from these black prostitutes/informants seemed to get results” and get cases “cleared.”
Maskill stated in an affidavit that he once confronted Golubski over his belief that Golubski “was becoming too close to his black prostitutes/informants.” Maskill said that Golubski “seemed to ‘slough off’ my opinion,” and the subject did not come up again.
“The question now is, why has nobody done anything about this for so long?” Pilate asked.
McIntyre was arrested within hours of the double murder of Doniel Quinn and Don Ewing on April 15, 1994, based on the word of a single eyewitness who mistakenly thought she recognized McIntyre as someone who had hung out with her niece. After he was arrested, police detectives later found a second eyewitness who identified McIntyre.
But that second witness, a cousin to one of the victims, recanted upon seeing McIntyre at trial. Mounting evidence gathered by McIntyre’s attorneys point to the killing as being revenge for a theft of drugs, a crime unrelated to McIntyre. And many in the community, including family members of both victims, are among those who complain that McIntyre is only one of many cases in which the criminal justice system has failed.
“There is no reason poor people would trust the system,” says Kendra Dean Martin, a cousin to McIntyre who freely admits that in her youth she was involved in gang activities and selling drugs, but has since turned her life around. “It is not there to serve and protect us. It is there to protect and serve them.”
Now 41, Lamonte McIntyre still cannot figure out how he became a suspect, much less convicted, for murdering two drug users in broad daylight. “I didn’t know the witness,” he said. “I didn’t know the victim. I still don’t know to this day how I became the main suspect.”
As McIntyre recalled in one of several telephone conversations, “My mother worked so hard to keep us on track.” He said she instilled in him the sense that “the thing was to go to school, go to high school, go to college.” He dreamed of going to the University of Michigan, a school he favored because of the sports teams that he admired.
But then, even before school, there were “influences so negative.” Family members became, like so many in the neighborhood, addicted to drugs. And soon McIntyre was doing drugs himself: “I no longer had plans to prosper. I was on drugs, making bad decisions for myself.”
He was expelled from school after being caught smoking marijuana, and enrolled in the alternate school. “This became the only life I knew,” McIntyre recalled. “My mind set was so far off.” Excepting his mother and grandmother, he said, “the influences around me were all negative.”
McIntyre was involved in two prior juvenile incidents. His first arrest was on Dec. 29, 1992, after he had finished eating pizza at his cousin’s apartment. He was dozing on the couch when the police arrived.
The pizza, along with some cash, had been taken from the Pizza Hut deliveryman, who described two men robbing him on the street across from the cousin’s apartment. One of the men had a gun, the deliveryman told police.
The police arrived at the apartment and arrested three men: McIntyre’s brother, a cousin, and McIntyre. The men gave statements that the cousin and brother committed the robbery, and that McIntyre was not even outside when the robbery occurred on the street.
One attorney negotiated a deal for all three men: All three could avoid detention by pleading guilty and being put on probation.
“I was told if I didn’t plead guilty I’d get convicted and be sentenced to years in prison,” McIntyre said.
Then, weeks before the murders, police approached a group outside his cousin’s house and found drugs on several people, including three rocks of crack cocaine in McIntyre’s pocket.
But none of that prepared McIntyre for being charged with murdering two people that he said he never knew and had nothing to do with their deaths.
“I thought there is no way I could be found guilty,” he said. “I was not tied to the murder at all.”
He recalled hearing the jurors come back with a guilty verdict, which left him “in shock.”
In prison for so long, he said he struggles with the routine. Every day is the same, he said: “Nothing ever changes.”
McIntyre said he prays every day. “I try to make sense of it all,” he said. “I work to find meaning in what has happened to me. I just don’t see it.”