In 1996, Ricky Kidd was wrongfully convicted of the double-homicide of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges in Kansas City, Missouri. Witnesses to the crime testified that three men entered Bryant’s home in the middle of the day. The two victims were found dead, Bridges in the basement and Bryant in the street outside his home. Bryant’s 4-year-old daughter was discovered alive in a closet inside the house.
Ricky became the lead suspect in the case after an anonymous tip came in naming him as one of the killers; evidence suggests this phone tip may have been called in by one of the actual perpetrators. Ricky had what should have been an airtight alibi for the crime: he was at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Lake Jacomo Office at the time of the murders, filling out an application for a gun permit.
Ricky and co-defendant Marcus Merrill were charged with the crime. Merrill had flown to Kansas City from Atlanta shortly before the murder with two individuals, Gary Goodspeed, Sr., and Gary Goodspeed, Jr. The three of them—Merrill and the Goodspeeds—alibied themselves together at the time of the crime. Although all evidence indicated three perpetrators were involved, the State never charged a third person or attempted to bring a third person to justice.
Ricky was tried jointly with Merrill, who later confessed to being a real perpetrator in the crime, along with the Goodspeeds. Unfortunately, Ricky received woefully inadequate counsel. Ricky’s attorney failed to, among other things, investigate Ricky’s solid and verifiable alibi; request a separate trial from Merrill, which would have more accurately presented the lack of evidence against Ricky; and perhaps most damning, failed to object to Merrill’s attorney’s claim that Ricky’s fingerprint was found in the getaway car, when in fact, Ricky’s fingerprint was only found in his own car. Both Ricky Kidd and Marcus Merrill were convicted and sentenced to life without parole.
Ricky continued to maintain his innocence, exhausted his state appeals, and moved to the federal district court. Represented by UMKC law professor Sean O’Brien in his federal habeas proceedings, Ricky’s innocence became clear. Investigation revealed that Merrill and the Goodspeeds had committed the crime together, accounting for all three perpetrators—leaving Ricky the odd man out. Merrill’s compelling testimony that it was he and the Goodspeeds alone that committed the crime was presented to a federal judge. Physical and other evidence corroborated Merrill’s testimony. Unfortunately, because of the Eighth’s Circuit legal standard stating that evidence cannot be “new” if it was able to be discovered at the time of trial, Ricky was denied relief.
Ricky has spent the last 20 years fighting to prove his innocence from inside prison walls. The Midwest Innocence Project, along with co-counsel Sean O’Brien and Cindy Dodge, now represent Ricky Kidd in his last hopes for freedom. In November 2013, Ricky’s team filed for DNA testing of evidence that could reveal that it was the Goodspeeds, and not Ricky, who were at the crime scene. In his filing, Ricky’s team explained that DNA from either of the Goodspeeds would be enough to prove his innocence—again, at the time of the crime, the Goodspeeds and Merrill alibied themselves together. Indeed, all evidence pointed to their collective guilt. However, because the addition of one Goodspeed meant the addition of both, neither of them have been brought to justice: To charge the Goodspeeds without recognizing Ricky’s innocence would bring the count of perpetrators to four. In February 2016, the court ordered DNA testing. While testing is underway, MIP filed a Rule 91 petition on Ricky’s behalf, outlining his innocence and asking for his immediate release.
The costs of a wrongful incarceration are not suffered by Ricky alone. Read more about the toll Ricky’s wrongful conviction has taken on his family in remarks from Monica Gray here.
On December 6, 2016, Kansas City Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks told Governor Nixon that Ricky Kidd is innocent and that we know who really committed the crime. Read Mr. Brooks’s letter here. Governor Nixon did not grant this request.
The Midwest Innocence Project has filed the documents below on behalf of Ricky. Support the work of MIP in freeing innocent individuals like Ricky Kidd by donating here.
- 2016.02.10 Order for Post-Conviction DNA Testing
- 2016.01.04 Reply to Respondent’s Suggestions in Opposition
- 2015.10.05 State’s Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
- 2015.03.06 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
- 2015.03.05 Suggestions in Support of Defendant’s Motion for Postconviction DNA Testing