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Man convicted in 1988 explosion that killed 6 KC firefighters wins $344K in records suit

A federal choose has awarded greater than $344,000 in authorized charges to a former prisoner who sued the Justice Department searching for solutions a few 1988 explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters, for which he spent almost 22 years in jail.

Bryan Sheppard, who maintains his innocence in the explosion, filed the lawsuit after his launch in 2017. He petitioned below the Freedom of Information Act, searching for the disclosure of records stemming from a federal overview of the case. That overview was prompted by a Kansas City Star investigation that raised questions on whether or not federal investigators engaged in misconduct.

“This case is not about whether the Star’s allegations are indeed true or whether the five individuals convicted of the 1988 arson are actually innocent,” Sheppard’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Missouri in December 2017. (*6*)

Sheppard was amongst 5 convicted in the Nov. 29, 1988, explosion at a construction site alongside U.S. Route 71 close to 87th Street. Prosecutors argued that Sheppard, 17 on the time of the arson, conspired with 4 different co-defendants to steal instruments to promote for drug cash and set hearth to a tractor-trailer in the early hours of the morning.

In March 2017, Sheppard, who was the youngest of the defendants, was launched from jail. He had been granted a brand new sentencing listening to after the U.S. Supreme Court dominated in 2012 that it’s unconstitutional to impose obligatory life sentences on juveniles with out first making an allowance for their particular person traits and life historical past.

No bodily proof tied the 5 defendants to the arson.

Reporting by the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning Star reporter Mike McGraw spotlighted inconsistencies in the case. He interviewed witnesses who mentioned they have been coerced by authorities. A key witness mentioned she was pressured to lie about overhearing her mom, who was convicted, and the others planning a theft on the building website.

Some of the jurors who voted to convict one of many defendants have acknowledged they believed in her innocence, McGraw reported. They mentioned they discovered her responsible as a result of they wrongly believed letting her go would set the opposite defendants free.

McGraw’s investigation prompted a Justice Department overview of the case.

In 2011, the Justice Department mentioned it discovered data, not beforehand identified to prosecutors, that urged different individuals “may have been involved in the arsons.” No one else, nonetheless, was charged.

Sheppard sought records stored by the Justice Department regarding its investigation. In the civil lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Nanette Ok. Laughrey issued earlier rulings that discovered the Justice Department improperly withheld paperwork requested by Sheppard.

In whole, Sheppard was awarded $344,122 in attorneys’ charges to be paid by the Justice Department below an order issued Tuesday by Laughrey. Lawyers for Sheppard had requested $444,314 in charges.

Bryan Sheppard testified Wednesday in a listening to to scale back his life sentence in the 1988 explosion deaths of six firefighters.

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