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AG Derek Schmidt: Fifth mistaken-conviction lawsuit concluded

Release Date: Jun 02, 2021

TOPEKA – (June 2, 2021) – The attorney general’s office has resolved a fifth lawsuit filed under the state’s mistaken-conviction statute, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

The attorney general reached an agreed resolution of a lawsuit filed November 13, 2020, by Olin L. “Pete” Coones. In December 2009, Mr. Coones was convicted in Wyandotte County District Court and imprisoned for the first-degree murder of a Wyandotte County woman. His conviction was vacated and charges against him dismissed on November 5, 2020. After being released from prison, Mr. Coones died on February 21, 2021, and his claim was continued by his estate. The agreed resolution was approved today in Shawnee County District Court by Judge Teresa L. Watson.

In the agreed order, the court determined that Mr. Coones did not commit the crime for which he was convicted, nor was he an accessory or accomplice to that crime, nor did he suborn perjury, fabricate evidence or cause or bring about his conviction through his own conduct. Mr. Coones served 12 years and 213 days in prison or jail.

Accordingly, the court ordered the following relief for Mr. Coones, as provided by the mistaken-conviction statute:

  • Mr. Coones was granted a Certificate of Innocence.
  • Records of his conviction and arrest were ordered expunged.
  • Mr. Coones’ estate was granted total compensation of $826,301.81.

By law, payment of the judgment entered today is subject to review by the State Finance Council. Schmidt plans to formally ask the Finance Council to review the matter at its next meeting.

From December 2018 through the present, 11 individuals have filed lawsuits against the State of Kansas under authority of the K.S.A. 60-5004, the mistaken-conviction statute. Of those, five have reached judgment and payment has been made or is in process. In a sixth case, the district court ruled against the claimant, and the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed that no payment was owed. The other five cases remain in litigation in district courts.

Copies of the orders In the matter of the wrongful conviction of Olin “Pete” Coones, Shawnee County Case No. 2020-CV-593, are available at https://bit.ly/3g5roJT.

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