Evidence, witnesses cast doubt on Kansas man's life sentence

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By BILL DRAPER
Associated Press
(KANSAS CITY, Kan., AP) — A Kansas man who has spent more than half of his life in prison for a double homicide that witnesses swear he didn’t commit is hoping more than 40 affidavits supporting his innocence finally end a nightmare that began when he was 17.
Among new evidence presented in court documents filed last month supporting a motion to vacate Lamonte McIntyre’s 1994 murder conviction is a scathing 17-page affidavit from the former Kansas City, Kansas, police captain who called his department’s investigation “grossly deficient.”
It was “unusually brief and superficial and was characterized by multiple errors, failures and deviations from accepted police practices,” said Randy Eskina, who now coordinates security for the Kansas Board of Public Utilities.
But it’s unclear whether the Kansas Attorney General’s office will take the case of McIntyre, now 40, who has served 22 years of a life sentence for the April 15, 1994, deaths of Doniel Quinn and Donald Ewing, shot in broad daylight as they sat in a car in a drug-infested neighborhood.
“Being charged, convicted and sent to prison has been a surreal experience, like a nightmare I can’t wake up from,” McIntyre said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “It’s hard to believe it happened, and I still struggle with the question of why.”
One of two witnesses whose statements were key in McIntyre’s conviction now says the lead prosecutor, Terra Morehead, threatened to charge her with contempt and take her children away if she didn’t stick with an earlier coerced statement.
Niko Quinn, a cousin of the victims, said she told Morehead before McIntyre’s trial that she was certain he wasn’t the shooter. Undeterred, Quinn said, Morehead insisted a positive identification — or face severe repercussions.
Morehead, now an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
About seven years ago, Kansas City, Missouri, attorney Cheryl Pilate, started investigating the case at the request of New Jersey-based Centurion Ministries, which fights for wrongly convicted prison inmates who are condemned or serving life sentences. She said the case contains so many flaws that no reasonable juror would have convicted him if all the evidence had been provided.
“This was a case where every time we found a piece of information, it led us to another piece of information and we just continued to follow the trails,” Pilate said. “The trails never stopped. There’s still more information that is flowing to us.”
Doniel Quinn sometimes stayed at a drug house where he occasionally worked as a doorman letting people in and out, Niko Quinn said in her affidavit. He confided to her before his death that he’d been beaten by associates of Aaron Robinson and Cecil Brooks, who operated the drug house, because they thought he had stolen crack cocaine.
Quinn’s father told investigators after the shootings that his son had gotten involved with some bad people who could inflict “instant death,” according to a memorandum McIntyre’s attorneys filed July 12 in Wyandotte County District Court. Investigators never looked into that, the attorneys said.
Brooks, who is in a federal prison in Missouri, signed an affidavit in June saying that Quinn and Ewing were killed by a young “enforcer” with a street name “Monster” — not McIntyre. Robinson is dead.
“The guy who got convicted for these murders had nothing to do with it,” Brooks said. “None of us had ever heard of him. Monster got paid to do the murder.”
A second eyewitness, Ruby Mitchell, told investigators the shooter looked like a man named Lamonte who had dated her niece. She later picked McIntyre out of a lineup and said he looked like the shooter, but acknowledged he didn’t look like her niece’s suitor.
Wyandotte County Prosecutor Jerome Gorman has asked the Kansas attorney general’s office to take the case; a spokeswoman for Attorney General Derek Schmidt said no decision has been made.
Nonetheless, McIntyre’s mother, Rose, told the AP that she’s “grateful to the witnesses who have come forward with the truth, especially the eyewitnesses.”
“Some have told the truth from the very beginning, but now there is hope they will be listened to,” she said. “More than anything, I want everyone to know that my son is innocent.”