Lamonte McIntyre spent 23 years behind bars for a double murder he didn’t commit. On Monday, he was awarded $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit for his wrongful conviction, the Kansas State Attorney General’s office announced.
McIntyre was 17 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1994 murders of Donald Ewing and Doniel Quinn. He served 8,583 days behind bars before being released and exonerated in October 2017.
“In this case, our office worked diligently to obtain and review all available evidence, including evidence identified but not provided in the earlier judicial proceedings,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement Monday. “We were ultimately able to resolve all issues, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. McIntyre can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because of his mistaken conviction.”
Last year, McIntyre filed a lawsuit against the state under the its mistaken-conviction statute, which was passed in 2018. The law allows those who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned to seek monetary damages from the state. McIntyre testified in support of the measure before a state Senate committee in 2018.
“The state of Kansas can’t give me back the 23 years it took from me,” he said in his testimony. “But it can pass this compensation law so I can start my path to a successful future.”
In addition to $1.5 million, McIntyre was awarded access to the state health care benefits program for two years, counseling and a tuition wavier for post-secondary education. Records of his conviction, arrest and any DNA profile record information were ordered to be expunged.
“Today, Lamonte McIntyre has been declared, finally and conclusively, a completely innocent man,” Cheryl A. Pilate, McIntyre’s lawyer, told CNN on Monday. “That long-overdue recognition, along with the statutory payment and other benefits, will help lighten a bit the heavy load he has carried.”
Since being released, McIntyre co-founded a nonprofit, Miracle of Innocence, to help others who are wrongfully convicted. He also is the co-owner and student instructor at Headlines Barber Academy in Kansas City.
“I’m not angry,” McIntyre told CNN affiliate KMBC in an interview last year. “I’m frustrated because I don’t like to see this kind of injustice happen to nobody.”
McIntyre’s is the third lawsuit to be resolved under the new statute, according to the attorney general’s office. Three other cases are currently pending litigation.
“We are going to help innocent people come home,” McIntyre told KMBC. “But we also want to make sure they are sound and on solid ground once they get here.”