KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Missouri man who spent nearly a quarter of a century in prison for a double-murder before a judge freed him will not be retried, prosecutors said Friday.
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said that in the month since a judge ordered the release of Ricky Kidd of Kansas City, her office found no evidence to re-file charges.
"In order to proceed to trial again, our ethical duty requires that, 23 years after the murder, the admissible evidence be capable of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Baker said. "The passage of time, unavailability of some witnesses, and changed testimony proscribe that we cannot achieve that standard. Therefore, we are dismissing this case."
Meanwhile, the Missouri Attorney General's office also will not pursue a new trial. Spokesman Chris Nuelle said the office considers "the matter closed and will take no further action."
DeKalb County Judge Daren Adkins ruled in August 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. Kidd had been serving life without parole at a prison in Cameron.
Kidd turned 45 Tuesday and is now on the staff of the Midwest Innocence Project, the organization that worked to free him. He was in his car Friday when he got the news that he no longer had the threat of a new trial hanging over his head.
"Just hearing that broke me down, when he said that I'm free, to do whatever I want to do, or to travel," Kidd said.
Kidd said he was grateful to Baker and the Attorney General's office, "and even the state, to be honest, for being willing to do the right thing.
"You can appreciate people, even if they have been your opposition, if they do the right thing," Kidd said. "I don't have any room for bitterness. I've had enough negativity and dark days in my life."
The killings happened in broad daylight on Feb. 6, 1996.
A police officer who arrived at Bryant's home 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.
Kidd told authorities he was with his girlfriend at the time of the killings. Eyewitnesses who testified against him later recanted.
Baker said her office met with relatives of the victims, including Bryant's daughter.
"She is clearly haunted by that day along with other members of her family," Baker said.