Lamonte McIntyre was just 17 when he was arrested in the 1994 shotgun killing of two men on a Kansas City, Kan., street.
Now 40 years old, McIntyre has spent more than half his life in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
That claim is bolstered by what his lawyers say is “new and overwhelming evidence” that McIntyre is innocent.
“In light of the overwhelming new evidence of McIntyre’s innocence, it is clear that no reasonable juror would have convicted him if this new evidence had been presented at trial,” his attorneys said in a suit filed recently in Wyandotte County District Court.
They say McIntyre was the victim of a “nightmare in which virtually nothing happened as it should have.”
Witnesses were “manipulated and coerced” by the prosecutor and police, and evidence favorable to McIntyre’s case was withheld from his trial attorney, according to the legal action filed by his attorneys, Cheryl Pilate, Melanie Morgan and Mark Kind.
They also said that a previous personal relationship between the prosecutor and the judge who handled the case was never disclosed to McIntyre’s trial attorney, Gary Long.
Long said Wednesday that he could not comment because he is likely to be called as a witness in the case.
Officials with the Wyandotte County district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Pilate said she and her colleagues had invested six years and hundreds of hours working on the case.
“We’re really, really 1,000 percent committed to the case and achieving justice for Lamonte,” she said.
McIntyre was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to consecutive life prison sentences for the April 15, 1994, killings of Doniel Quinn and Donald Ewing.
His effort to win his freedom is backed up by Quinn’s mother, Saundra Newsom. She said she has been convinced “from the very beginning” that McIntyre did not kill her son.
“I want him out,” Newsom said of McIntyre. “I’m absolutely on board.”
She said she wants to see her son’s real killer brought to justice.
“All I want is my son’s death to be vindicated,” she said.
The police investigation into the killings of Quinn and Ewing was “startling in its brevity, lasting just a few hours,” according to McIntyre’s attorneys.
And when the case went to trial just five months after the killings, “there was no physical evidence, no evidence of motive and no evidence that McIntyre even knew either of the victims,” the lawsuit says.
The state’s case was based on the testimony of two eyewitnesses.
But according to the lawsuit, one of those women now says in a sworn affidavit that she told the prosecutor that McIntyre was not the shooter. That information was never passed to the defense, the lawsuit says.
In her affidavit, the woman says the prosecutor threatened to have her children taken away if she did not testify.
The second witness also signed an affidavit stating that she was confused when she identified McIntyre. She said she told police that the shooter had braided hair.
McIntyre did not wear his hair in that style, according to the suit.
But at trial, that woman testified she wasn’t paying attention to the shooter’s hair, but instead was looking at his face. However, in her initial statement to police at the scene, when asked if she saw the shooter’s face, she said, “Well, he’s brown-skinned, that’s all I could tell.”
That statement was never introduced at trial, and the defense now says that new investigation has determined that she was more than 100 feet away from the shooting and would have been unable to make out the shooter’s facial characteristics.
Other witnesses who did not testify also provided affidavits.
One said she also told the prosecutor that McIntyre was not the killer. But she was sent away from the courthouse without being called to testify, the defense says in court documents, and once again her information was never shared with Long, McIntyre’s trial attorney.
Another witness who did not testify at trial was in the best position to see the shooting, directly across the street, according to the defense court documents. But police never interviewed her.
That woman died in 2000, but in a 1996 hearing after McIntyre was convicted, she testified that McIntyre was not the killer.
In making their case to have McIntyre’s conviction thrown out, his attorneys said the actual killer was known on the street as “Monster” and was an enforcer for a notorious Kansas City, Kan., drug dealer.
“Monster” is serving a 33-year sentence in a Missouri prison for a 2000 homicide.
While the drug dealer is now dead, McIntyre’s attorneys have obtained sworn affidavits from some of his associates who say that Quinn and Ewing were killed because Quinn was suspected of stealing from the dealer.
The former Kansas City, Kan., police detective named in the lawsuit, Roger Golubski, is now a detective for the Edwardsville Police Department.
Golubski is not authorized to comment about any law enforcement incident that doesn’t involve the Edwardsville department, said Chief Mark Mathies.
“I want to reassure Edwardsville citizens of our unwavering dedication to protecting the rights of all people and believe all people deserve impartial and effective service from our members,” the chief said in a written statement.
He said the department is committed to “obedience of the law and demonstrating respect for the human dignity of all people.”
“To that end, should circumstances necessitate, the Edwardsville Police Department will take appropriate action to ensure the community’s trust in our organization remains steadfast,” Mathies said.
Terra Morehead, the former Wyandotte County prosecutor who handled McIntyre’s case, did not respond to an email message seeking comment.
Officials with the Kansas attorney general’s office also did not respond to requests for comment.
Through his attorneys, McIntyre released a statement in which he said it was a surreal experience that felt like a nightmare he couldn’t wake up from.
“It’s hard to believe it happened,” he said. “It has been so difficult to make sense out of this.”
McIntyre said he was grateful to have lawyers and investigators who are fighting to help him, and he was trying to remain hopeful.
“I am totally innocent of the crimes of which I was convicted, and I look forward to proving that.”