Midwest Innocence Project client Ricky Kidd will get an opportunity next Monday to persuade a Missouri judge that his public defender failed to adequately defend him of the double murders of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges. He was convicted of the crime in 1996 and has served nearly half of his life in prison.
He spoke with public radio station KCUR about his experience, saying, “From day one, I’ve been claiming, screaming, kicking, fighting that I’m innocent. I guess I was a little naïve early on. I thought that the system would have a quicker self-correct mechanism, and 20 years later, I’m still here.”
Documents filed in his case claim that his state-appointed attorney failed to properly investigate a key witness in the case, failed to provide details for his alibi and failed to correct the record when another attorney incorrectly claimed that Kidd’s prints were on the getaway car.
The hearing comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri alleging that the Missouri public defender system is so underfunded and understaffed that poor people in Missouri are not receiving fair trials as required by the constitution. According to the lawsuit, only Mississippi spends less per case that Missouri, which spends an average of $356 per case.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, told KCUR, “Every time someone’s convicted and has a public defender, you have to wonder if the result would have been the same if they had adequate representation.”
According to KCUR, the government has long recognized that the public defender system is underfunded, but it has failed to correct the problem.
You can listen the the full piece here.