Kansas governor’s promise “we will make it right” has not come true for wrongly convicted man

In October 2017, Lamonte McIntyre was freed after spending 23 years in Kansas prisons, after a hearing that produced significant evidence that McIntyre was wrongly convicted and that the investigating detective, the prosecutor and the trial judge all had engaged in misconduct.

Seven months later, the Kansas legislature passed a bill later signed into law that assured suspects who were wrongly convicted of crimes would receive compensation ⁠— $65,000 a year for each year of imprisonment.The bill was passed after McIntyre had personally testified before legislators.

As he signed the bill into law in May, 2018, Gov. Jeff Colyer turned to McIntyre and two other wrongly convicted Kansans and, according to the Associate Press, said, “I want to say to Lamonte McIntyre, to Floyd Bledsoe, to Richard Jones, we believe in you, we apologize to you…we will make it right.”

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But McIntyre still has not been paid, and in recently filed court documents Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt failed to acknowledge McIntyre’s innocence, leaving it for McIntyre to prove his innocence in order to get the money.

“I don’t understand this at all,” McIntyre said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “I thought we already proved that I was innocent and I thought the state agreed. It took 23 years to get my life back. They used my case to pass the compensation law. Now I have to fight some more for them to do what is right.”

At issue is the attorney general’s response to a petition filed by McIntyre’s attorneys, Cheryl A. Pilate and Michael J. Abrams, for the state to award McIntyre the compensation that appeared to have been assured. In that petition, the attorneys wrote, “Mr. McIntyre cannot start his new life without the assistance sought, having been incarcerated for…nearly the entirety of his adult life.”

The petition lays out the evidence presented at the October 2017 hearing that ended in McIntyre’s conviction being overturned: Recantations by the two witnesses who identified McIntyre as the man who walked up to a parked car, pulled out a shotgun and killed Doniel Quinn and Donald Ewing; alibi witnesses; and evidence that the police detective had built a case on false accusations against McIntyre. In addition, the defense developed evidence that the shooting was committed by another man, and was the result of a dispute over drugs.

“The newly discovered evidence,” the defense petition states, “demolished the state’s flimsy, falsehood-laden case.”

In addition, the defense presented evidence that the prosecutor in the case had sought to suppress evidence of McIntyre’s innocence, and the trial judge had a previous sexual relationship with the prosecutor that went undisclosed.

Midway through the hearing, the petition notes, Wyandotte District Attorney Mark Dupree “determined that a ‘manifest injustice’ had occurred,” after which he asked for, and the visiting judge granted, the conviction to be overturned. Dupree then dropped  the murder charge.

But in answering the petition, the attorney general acknowledges only that Ewing and Quinn were murdered; witnesses identified McIntyre as the shooter; McIntyre was convicted; and the conviction was overturned.

The petition states that the attorney general “is without sufficient information” about the claims detailed in the petition of McIntyre’s wrongful conviction.

Pilate, who spent years building a case that the detective had engaged in extensive sexual relations with prostitutes and other vulnerable women whom he then relied upon as witnesses, said Wednesday that she was outraged by the attorney general’s response. She said she had offered the attorney general’s office  access months ago to whatever information she had to help McIntyre’s claim be resolved.

“They have not come to see me,” she said. “They don’t want to go by the record.”