Thursday, November 5, 2020

Some justice for Olin Pete Coones

Branden Bell, Lindsay Runnels, with their crew at Morgan Pilate, and Tricia Rojo Bushnell of the Midwest Innocence Project won freedom for Olin "Pete" Coones in their phenomenal ongoing  work exonerating the wrongfully convicted. Yesterday,  after years of work (with early help from Carl Folsom), some late justice was done. From the KC Star:  

A Wyandotte County judge Thursday vacated the 2009 murder conviction of Olin “Pete” Coones, who says he was framed in a double shooting that was actually a murder-suicide.

After more than 12 years behind bars, Coones left the courthouse a free man.

The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office moved to drop the charges against Coones, now 63, after the judge found Coones received an unfair trial in the 2008 shooting deaths of Kathleen and Carl Schroll.

It is a complicated story, one expertly told in the beautifully written petition. Really, here is the opening paragraph:

Kathleen Schroll’s last scheme was her most ambitious one. Granted, her first one netted her around $30,000 in cash, a house, and a $46,000 life-insurance policy. And her second one, requiring her to falsify bank records, paid her about $11,000. But with her last scheme, Kathleen aimed to steal someone’s life. 

In sum, prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, ignored alibi evidence, withheld information from the medical examiner, and sponsored an untrustworthy jailhouse snitch to convict Mr. Coones. The prosecution was led by WyCo assistant prosecutor Edmund “Ed” Brancart, under then-WyCo DA Jerome Gorman. The MIP explains the case more fully here

This was the first case to go through Wyandotte County's Conviction Integrity Unit, under the supervision of current WyCo District Attorney Mark Dupree

The winning team. Our best to Mr. Coones and his family. 

-- Melody

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