Man who spent 30 years in jail for US murders wants justice

Image copyright AFP Image caption Gary Kuo was released in July, after serving 30 years of a life sentence

The case of Gary Kuo, an American man convicted of killing two teenagers in 1979, has moved one step closer to closure after nearly four decades.

About $950,000 (£715,000) has been raised for Mr Kuo by donors in the US, who are putting their money towards raising the $2m necessary to compensate him for the 30 years he spent in prison for a crime he did not commit.

After being released from jail in July 2016, the 63-year-old was placed in a high-security shelter with nowhere to go.

He is now applying for federal disability benefits and thousands of dollars in medical benefits.

But he told CNN: “I don’t know what kind of health care I will get… I don’t know what kind of houses I will get.”

Mr Kuo was arrested in June 1979 in connection with the killing of two teenagers in St Louis County, Missouri. He was convicted in May 1981 of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed criminal action.

Robert Cooter and Joseph Pigg were stabbed to death in 1979, and police believe Kuo and two other men, Ronald Humboldt and Joseph Hicks, were their attackers.

The three men were caught a short time later after kicking open a bedroom window where they were watching television.

Mr Kuo was the first of the men to be arrested and initially provided a detailed alibi for the murder. He claims he was on a ferry the same day and has always maintained his innocence.

But in 1980, St Louis County investigators claimed to have new information and re-interviewed Kuo and other suspects. The new witnesses said Kuo was responsible for the crime, according to reports.

Two witnesses admitted in May 1981 to keeping Kuo in prison for two years, according to The Post-Dispatch newspaper.

A jury convicted Kuo and sentenced him to life in prison, earning him US$2 a day.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Gary Kuo had 20 jurors in his trial

Image copyright AFP Image caption Gary Kuo has applied for federal disability payments and thousands of dollars in medical benefits

After Kuo’s release, St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch refused to review the case. In March, a county circuit judge ruled that it was in St Louis County’s interest to vacate Mr Kuo’s conviction.

Mr McCulloch has filed an appeal against that decision.

Mr Kuo has applied for federal disability payments and has received $40,000 from the US Department of Justice for the prison time he served.

Meanwhile, over the past month more than half a million people have raised $250,000 by donating to a crowdfunding campaign on GiveForward – a site for raising funds to help inmates pay for their lawyers.

Share your experiences

Can you share any similar experiences of criminal injustice? Would you take part in an international investigation into the justice system? Do you feel there is enough information available for new evidence of wrongful conviction to be heard in court?

Share your experiences of misprision of a felony, which is the crime of the commission of a felony without notice to the justice system, which is the crime of failing to warn authorities of a crime. Would you advise law enforcement to act early enough?

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