Judge orders release of Missouri man imprisoned 2 decades

A judge has ordered the release of a Missouri inmate after overturning his conviction for a 1996 double murder

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A judge ordered the release Thursday of a Missouri inmate who was imprisoned for more than 20 years for a double murder, a day after overturning his conviction.

DeKalb County Judge Daren Adkins said in his order that prosecutors didn't object to 44-year-old Ricky Kidd being freed pending further proceedings in the case. Adkins issued the order one day after finding that there was "clear and convincing" evidence that Kidd was innocent of the February 1996 deaths of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges in Kansas City. Adkins gave prosecutors 30 days to decide whether to retry him.

Kidd, who had been held at a prison in Cameron, was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers, including his daughter, who hadn't been born when he was locked up. He said he was elated but angry about the years he spent behind bars.

"We all should be angry, taxpayers who foot the bill for 23 years paying for the wrong person to be in prison, while the real individuals are out there," he told The Kansas City Star.

Court records show that Kidd, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the two first-degree murder convictions, told authorities he was with his girlfriend at the time of the killings. Eyewitnesses who testified against him later recanted, the records show.

Chris Nuelle, spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schmitt, said the office is examining the order and couldn't immediately comment. He said the office hasn't made a decision about whether to retry Kidd. Until the state makes a decision, he will live with his sister in Kansas City and is barred from leaving the state.

The Missouri attorney general's office, led by then-top prosecutor Jay Nixon, handled the original prosecution. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office also is reviewing the case.

A police officer who arrived at Bryant's home after the killings found his 4-year-old daughter in the garage crying, still on the phone with a 911 operator. Bryant was lying in a pool of blood in the snow in his front yard. Police then found Bridges' body in Bryant's basement with his feet, hands and mouth bound with duct tape. He had been shot twice in the back of the head.

Kidd and Marcus Merrill were convicted, while only Merrill confessed. Adkins' order said evidence pointed to Merrill and two other men as the real killers.