Ricky Kidd, exonerated in two 1996 murders, to be released from prison ‘immediately’

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.

Updated: Ricky Kidd was released from prison Thursday afternoon. That story is posted here.

Ricky Kidd is to be released from prison immediately, a judge ordered Thursday, after serving more than 20 years in prison for a 1996 double murder he did not commit.

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.

Then, on Wednesday, a judge in DeKalb County said evidence of Kidd’s innocence was “clear and convincing.” The state had two options: release Kidd from prison or retry the case in court within 30 days.

In an order filed Thursday in DeKalb County Circuit Court, Judge Daren L. Adkins said the state indicated it “had no objection to the Petitioner being released pending further proceedings.”

The judge ordered Kidd be released from custody “immediately.” He has been held at the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron.

1996 murder conviction

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 from the Goodspeeds that could have been used in Kidd’s defense.

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.”

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.