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Screenshot: Kansas City Star/Youtube

A judge on Tuesday granted prosecutors' motion to exonerate Kevin Strickland in one of the longest wrongful conviction cases in U.S. history, Kansas City Star reports.

Why it matters: Strickland walked free after spending more than 43 years in prison for three murders he did not commit.

How it happened: Strickland, now 62, was 18 when he was arrested in 1978 in Missouri. Four suspects had shot four people and killed three of them. Cynthia Douglas was the only one to survive.

  • After hearing a description of the person with the shotgun, Douglas' sister, who was not present at the scene, suggested Strickland could be a perpetrator, according to the Star.
  • Douglas called the police and later identified Strickland as a suspect from a lineup of four people, though her relatives now say she was under pressure from detectives. She later recanted her testimony, prosecutors say.
  • Strickland's first trial in 1979 ended in a hung jury 11 to one. The sole Black juror was the only one to call for an acquittal. Prosecutors intentionally excluded Black people from serving as jury at Strickland's second trial.
  • An all-white jury convicted him of one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for 50 years.

Jackson County prosecutors began reviewing Strickland’s conviction following the Star's September 2020 investigation, which included interviews with the two men who admitted guilt. They swore Strickland was not with them during the murders.

  • Strickland was declared "factually innocent" in May, after which prosecutors filed a motion to free him.

What they're saying: "Under these unique circumstances, the Court’s confidence in Strickland’s conviction is so undermined that it cannot stand, and the judgment of conviction must be set aside," Judge James Welsh wrote Tuesday, per the Washington Post.

  • "I was an easy mark, and the police took advantage of it," Strickland told reporters outside the courthouse. "I didn't think this day would come ... Thankful for God walking me through this for 43 years, protecting me."

Go deeper

Nashville DA rejects another conviction

District Attorney Glenn Funk. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

For the second time this month, the Nashville district attorney's office is rejecting a decades-old murder case.

  • After reviewing the evidence against defendant Claude Garrett, who has served nearly 30 years for a 1992 murder, a team of prosecutors said in a new report that it was "wholly impossible to maintain confidence in Garrett's conviction."

Biden administration makes first move on data privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights.

Why it matters: An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.