Missouri AG asks court to deny release of KC man who says he was wrongfully convicted

Keith Carnes, right, with his mother Eve Moffatt (Submitted photo)
·3 min read

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a motion with the Missouri Supreme Court opposing the release of a man convicted in a 2003 murder.

Keith Carnes, 51, who was sentenced to life for the killing of Larry White, 24, is petitioning for release from prison after multiple eyewitnesses recanted their testimony, which placed him at the scene of the crime. The Missouri Supreme Court is reviewing Carnes’ request, but on Monday Schmitt submitted arguments encouraging the court to deny the release.

Carnes has been in prison for about 18 years. He was convicted of armed criminal action and first-degree murder in 2006.

According to Schmitt’s motion, Carnes’ request for release is based on claims that a police report was withheld from his legal team. Schmitt rejects that this is true.

Carnes also claims that new evidence has been revealed, which would convince a jury of his innocence.

Schmitt argues in his motion that “even a previously unseen witness affidavit is not ‘newly discovered evidence. ’“ Instead, he said, the defendant is trying to put a “different spin” on already presented evidence.

Earlier in 2021, witnesses who had been interviewed by police on Oct. 6, 2003 — the night White was killed — recanted their testimony and alleged they had been intimidated by authorities.

Witness statements

Wendy Lockett and Lorraine Morrow, two witnesses, testified for nearly a decade that Carnes chased White into a 29th Street and Prospect Avenue parking lot in Kansas City, where the victim stumbled to the ground and was shot multiple times.

Lockett said she recognized Carnes because of his eye patch, which no other drug dealer she knew at the time had. But in 2014, Lockett recanted her testimony, alleging that she had been coerced into identifying Carnes by police.

Morrow also recanted her testimony in 2014. In a visit to Assistant Prosecutor Amy McGowan’s office, she recalled pointing to the picture of man named Reginald Thomas, not Carnes, in a photo lineup. But McGowan allegedly pressured her into identifying Carnes by saying other witnesses had pointed him out. McGowan was a prosecutor in the Ricky Kidd case, which was overturned after Kidd spent 23 years behind bars for a double murder he did not commit.

Another witness Kermit O’Neal said he was a friend of Carnes in 2003, and alleged police intimidated him and attempted to “put words in his mouth” when recounting the night of the murder. O’Neal said White had a heated exchange with another dealer about selling drugs on his property and warned him not to come back prior to the shooting. The other dealer was not Carnes, according to O’Neal.

In an April 2021 court hearing, Lockett came forward saying that her original testimony was accurate and she was harassed into recanting by supporters of Carnes.

Morrow also told the court that she was suffering from too many medical conditions to remember the night of the murder clearly.

Thomas, who Morrow had identified in the original lineup, said he was with family during the night of the murder at the hearing.

No shell casings were found near the victim, according to the testimony of lead detective Robert Blehm, despite witness statements alleging multiple shots had been fired at White.

Blehm said the lack of physical evidence at the scene of the shooting was not unusual, as first responders can move evidence while attempting to treat a victim. There were some shell casings found on a nearby sidewalk, he said.

The Missouri Supreme Court has not yet responded to the motion for Carnes’ release.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting