Man in prison for 1996 double murder in Kansas City is innocent, judge rules

Ricky Kidd innocent in double homicide, judge says

A judge ruled Wednesday that a man convicted in a 1996 double homicide is innocent. The judge's order said evidence points to the true perpetrators of the crime.
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A judge ruled Wednesday that a man convicted in a 1996 double homicide is innocent. The judge's order said evidence points to the true perpetrators of the crime.

A man serving time in prison for a 1996 double murder in Kansas City is innocent and must be released or retried within 30 days, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Ricky Kidd, 44, has been incarcerated for 23 years for a robbery and double murder, all the time maintaining his innocence as he exhausted appeals in state and federal court.

In an order Wednesday, a judge in DeKalb County said evidence of Kidd’s innocence is “clear and convincing.”

Tricia Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, which worked to exonerate Kidd, said members of the group were ecstatic.

“It’s a long time coming,” she said. “It’s been over 20 years that Ricky Kidd has been in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and it’s incredibly meaningful that a court has recognized that today. We look forward to him coming home and being with his family.”

On Feb. 6, 1996, three men fled from the scene where George Bryant and Oscar Bridges were found fatally shot.

Kidd and Marcus Merrill were charged.

Kidd provided an alibi — he was with his girlfriend and they had gone to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Lake Jacomo where he filled out a gun permit application. A copy of the application dated Feb. 6, 1996, was identified by an officer. No physical evidence linked Kidd to the murders.

But he was still convicted, as was Merrill. Kidd was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for each murder.

Later, an eyewitness recanted his testimony. Another witness, who was 4 years old, was found to have identified Kidd under “suggestive” circumstances, the order said.

The judge’s order Wednesday said evidence identifies Merrill, who confessed, Gary Goodspeed Jr., and Gary Goodspeed Sr., as the true perpetrators of the crime.

According to the Midwest Innocence Project, prosecutors withheld evidence when Kidd was tried. That information included depositions, taken in former assistant prosecutor Amy McGowan’s office, from the Goodspeeds that could have been used in Kidd’s defense. Attempts to reach McGowan Thursday were not successful.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement that her office has not yet been contacted by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which handled the petition for release, but they will review the matter to determine the appropriate next steps.

“Our obligation here, as with every case, is to seek the truth,” Baker said.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office said they are reviewing the decision and deciding on the next steps.

Kidd is not eligible for compensation from the state because he was not exonerated through DNA testing.

Star reporter Steve Vockrodt contributed to this report.

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Katie Moore covers crime and justice issues for The Star. She is a University of Kansas graduate and was previously a reporter in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas.