This letter, written in early 2010 by Lamonte McIntyre to The Star’s Eric Adler, shows the anguish McIntyre endured as an innocent man imprisoned for a double murder he didn’t commit.
On Friday, McIntyre was finally freed, 23 years after Kansas City, Kan., police arrested him.
He writes that his first reaction was to laugh at the allegations — they were too outlandish to scare him. But despair soon set in, and he was left to ask, “Why me?”
Here is McIntyre’s letter, lightly edited for clarity.
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I got a call from my grandmother telling me the police was over (at) her house looking for me. I then called my mother to take me to the police so I can speak with them.
When I got to the police station that’s when everything changed. The homicide detectives became mean. Remind you ... I’m not the person they were looking for. So when they started screaming and yelling at me, I got confused. They said two people had got shot and one of the victims said I was the person who shot him. I literally started laughing! I couldn’t believe this man was telling me such a big lie to my face.
[Five relatives swore at McIntyre’s trial that he was with them when the murders were committed.]
I wasn’t even scared after he said that because I knew I didn’t have anything to do with what he was talking about. I was called a “nigger killer” and everything else that day. I didn’t mean to laugh at them, I just couldn’t believe they tried the good cop, bad cop thing on me. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from a saint, but I never killed anyone.
So I was taken to jail on April 15, 1994. But not the county. But to juvenile because I was seventeen. Once I got there I was left in a cell for 36 hours. I was so depressed that I tried to kill myself but the staff didn’t allow me to have shoestrings, bed sheets, forks, spoons or anything else I could have killed myself with. Not even books, pens or paper. So I laid there wondering, “How did I end up in this mess.” And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with the answer. That was the worst moment of this experience. Well one of ‘em at least.
So I sit there with my first court date and I thought for sure they would fix this mistake. But once I saw the first false witness walk in and point at me as the shooter, I knew something was wrong. Then another false witness came in and pointed at me also. I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.
I was sent over to the adult part of the county for trial. I was feeling pretty good because I thought they would never be able to convict me when I didn’t have anything to do with the crime. But when the judge said guilty I literally saw my whole life flash before my eyes.
And all of a sudden I felt someone grab me. And when I looked around, it was my mother yelling, “Please don’t take my son away from me.”
Then it dawned on me what was going on. So I started yelling, “Why are you doing this to me? I’m not the man y’all looking for.”
I didn’t cry then because I was in shock. I felt like I was floating away from the courtroom instead of walking. I couldn’t hear anything at all. I just kept hearing guilty in my head. So when I got back to the pod I was living in, all the inmates expected me to beat trial so they were sad for me also.
I believe that shock lasted for about 3 or 4 years after. I was so angry. I cried for 3 days straight. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep either because every time I closed my eyes I tried to understand, “Why me?” And that answer didn’t come for a long time.
Watching my mother go through this was the worst. She was the only one who never gave up on me. She didn’t let me go through that alone. And it’s still stuff I haven’t told her about this journey of mine because I know she would just worry.
So after the judge gave me 30 years in prison, they sent me 300 miles away to Hutchinson Correctional Facility where I stayed from ’95-’96. (Then) I was sent to Lansing. Just to be sent back to Hutchinson in 1997 where I stayed until 2000. And I been here ever since.
Starting out I was real angry because everyone I said I was innocent to ignored me. I couldn’t get no one to believe me. I remember thinking the courts was calling to fix this mistake every time I heard a phone ringing. That went on for four years.
I even went kinda crazy. I say that because I could never sleep so mental health put me on some kind of medication. I was so depressed because I found myself sitting in prison for killing two people I never even seen or spoke to before.
That same night would play over and over again in my head every time I closed my eyes. So I just stopped sleeping! I kept seeing that evil smirk on the D.A.’s face and hearing my mother yell, “Don’t take my son away from me.”
So I would just stay up all night and cry. Hell I feel like crying now, but I know from experience it doesn’t change anything.
So I keep looking forward to that day I can finally go home. This should be enough to give you an idea of what’s to come.