Kansas City, KS — The hearing that Lamonte McIntyre has awaited for 23 years — on evidence that he was wrongly convicted of a double murder — finally arrived Thursday morning.
It started and ended the same way: With relatives of the two victims taking the stand to insist that the wrong man had been convicted for the murder of their loved ones, and urging senior district judge Edward Bouker, specially appointed to the case, to free him.
The case, detailed in an Injustice Watch probe, was based on the dubious testimony of two eyewitnesses who identified McIntyre, then 17, as the man who killed Doniel Quinn, 21, and Don Ewing, 35, as they sat in a parked car in an impoverished neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas in 1994. Within hours of the killing, McIntyre was arrested after a resident up the street, Ruby Mitchell, picked out McIntyre from a photo lineup.
After he was arrested, police obtained a second identification from another neighbor. But both identifications are problematic, and the second eyewitness has been insisting for years that she was forced into a false identification.
On Thursday, James McCloskey, the founder of Centurion Ministries who took on McIntyre’s case after he was convicted and all legal channels appeared exhausted, testified that of the 90 cases his organization has taken on, he had never before seen a case in which families of the victims were among those who witnessed the crime and insisted the wrong man was convicted.
“I’ve not seen that. It stunned me,” McCloskey testified, in a courtroom filled with 65 observers, many of them family and supporters of McIntyre who showed up before the hearing to protest outside the courthouse. He added, “The police paid no attention. All these loved ones wanted was justice.”
The hearing is scheduled to last seven days, and defense attorney Cheryl Pilate, who worked on the case for several years with McCloskey before taking it on with the Midwest Innocence Project, is presenting evidence that challenges the entire justice system: Accusations of a corrupt detective, a prosecutor who withheld evidence, a trial judge who did not disclose a prior affair with the prosecutor, and poor representation both at trial and on appeal by attorneys who later were disbarred for mishandling a series of cases.
McCloskey testified Thursday that Roger Golubski, a key detective in the case, “was the dirtiest cop I’ve ever encountered.” He accused Golubski of terrorizing the impoverished north end of Kansas City, Kansas for decades. Golubski, he said, planted drugs on suspects, confiscated drugs, and used drugs he confiscated to procure sex.
McCloskey said he conducted 100 interviews over several years with residents of the impoverished neighborhood who expressed fear of Golubski.
The hearing is being overseen by Bouker, specially appointed from Hays County because of the accusations of misconduct by officials in Wyandotte County, in which Kansas City, Kansas sits. The district attorney for the county, Mark Dupree, sat in for a portion of the hearing, but Dupree’s office did not aggressively challenge the defense’s case Thursday.
McIntyre, who wore a grey suit with purple tie, entered the room and smiled broadly as he saw the collection of supporters. His grandmother was in the audience; but his mother, Rosie McIntyre, was among the witnesses kept outside the courtroom until they are called to testify.
The trial prosecutors, Jennifer Tatum and Francis Gipson, did not object once the entire day, even when witnesses went far afield in their answers.
The first witness, Gloria Labat, described watching the 1994 trial as one of the two eyewitnesses, Niko Quinn, approached her after leaving the stand to say that she had been forced to implicate McIntyre under threat her children would be taken away. Labat said she repeated what Quinn told her to the prosecutor, Terra Morehead; to the appointed defense lawyer, Gary Long II; and to McIntyre’s mother, but that nobody seemed to care.
“I just want the right person” to be in prison, Labat said. She said she felt bad McIntyre “got caught up in this,” adding, “I’m sorry you had to go through this.”
McIntyre’s attorneys contend that the shooting was ordered by a drug dealer who believed Doniel Quinn had stolen from a drug house. District Attorney Dupree avoided being called as a witness by stipulating that an imprisoned drug dealer, Cecil Brooks, told the attorney in March that he sat in on conversations with other dealers who discussed the need for revenge against Quinn, both before and after he was murdered. Brooks told Dupree that McIntyre was the wrong man.
The day ended with Saundra Newsom, mother of victim Doniel Quinn, tearfully recounting how she was waiting for justice to be done. Newsom testified that she divorced her ex-husband over his drug use, and that he told her soon after the shooting that McIntyre had nothing to do with the murders.
As Newsom described the pain she has felt from knowing the wrong man was convicted, McIntyre and many in the audience and at the defense table were in tears. Newsom described the disregard she felt from the city after her son was murdered, and described Golubski coming to her house soon after the funeral, and asking if she dated white men.
She turned to the judge at the end of her testimony and asked him to “look at all the reasons why and do the right thing.” While he could not “give me back my boy,” she said, she could give McIntyre’s mother back her boy.
She then turned to McIntyre’s defense table and said, “All we want is justice. Just do what’s right.”