|Lamonte McIntyre was charged with murder and thrown into prison at the age of 17|
A hearing began Thursday in Wyandotte County to reconsider the case against Lamonte McIntyre, who was sentenced to consecutive life terms in the 1994 deaths of Doniel Quinn and Donald Ewing. They were shot in broad daylight as they sat in a car in a drug-infested neighborhood.
McIntyre, 41, has always said he was innocent.
His case returned to court after a motion by his legal team, including Kansas City attorney Cheryl Pilate and representatives from the Midwest Innocence Project and Centurion Ministries Inc., which work to free those wrongfully convicted. Pilate and Centurion have been researching the case for about eight years.
On Friday, the murder charged against him were dismissed.
At 3:45 p.m. he walked outside and was greeted by a cheering crowd that included his family members, the victims' family members, and attorneys from two innocence projects who have worked tirelessly to set him free and clear his name.
His mother and siblings rushed to hug him. They were emotional embraces that they've waited decades to have.
His mother said she has been waiting to walk in the sunlight with her son.
McIntyre thanked everyone who has supported him for decades.
There was a moment when McIntyre hugged a woman who said she was pressured decades ago to pick him out of a lineup. She was scheduled to testify today on his behalf. McIntyre told her he forgave her long ago and knew she was pressured to say what she did.
McIntyre was 17 when police in Kansas City, KS arrested him for the murders. Investigators who worked the case issued no search warrants, arrested McIntyre after 19 minutes of interviews, did not conduct a thorough forensic investigation, did not interview key subjects or ever discover a link between McIntyre and the victims, according to testimony. No gun was ever recovered.
One of the nearly 50 supporters who attended the hearing Thursday was Quinn's mother, Saundra Newsom, who said she doesn't believe McIntyre killed her son.
"I just hope that we just do the right thing and let him out," she said while testifying. "Let him find a life. Let him be at peace. Let us be at peace."
Two witnesses to the crime said in affidavits that the told the prosecutor in the case that McIntyre was the wrong man. One, Niko Quinn, said was pressured to lie and name McIntyre as the perpetrator.
James McCloskey, the founder of Centurion, testified that Doniel Quinn was targeted because he was accused of stealing drugs. The victims' family and investigators believe a man currently serving a 33-year sentence in Missouri for a 2000 murder was paid $500 to kill the two men.
Ronald Singer, a forensic scientist with the Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner's Office, testified Thursday that investigators didn't test McIntyre's clothes for glass or blood from the crime scene, or search his home for the shotgun used in the crime. They also made no attempt to find a link that would put McIntyre at the scene, Singer said.
McCloskey expressed shock that detectives ignored the many people who told them they had the wrong man.
"It stunned me," he said on the stand. "How could you not listen to the loved ones who witnessed this traumatic, broad daylight slaying of these two people?"
McIntyre was set free on Friday evening.
He said he was too overwhelmed to know what he wants to be his first meal as a free man. He plans to relax with his family and take it all in.
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