Lamonte McIntyre has been in prison 22 years for a double homicide. Is he innocent?
On the afternoon of April 15, 1994, two men were sitting in a powder-blue Cadillac in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. A man dressed in black ran up to the passenger side, raised a shotgun and fired four rounds.
Doniel Quinn, 22, who was in the passenger seat, died at the scene. Donald Ewing, 34, was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Bethany Hospital.
Six hours later, police had a suspect in custody.
Lamonte McIntyre, 17, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. His trial, in Wyandotte County District Court, lasted three days. The jury deliberated into a fourth day before finding him guilty of both counts of first-degree murder.
Now 40, McIntyre is imprisoned at Lansing Correctional Facility. He maintains his innocence.
On July 12, his lawyers filed a 177-page memorandum of fact and law outlining the “exceptional circumstances” that justify his release from prison. The memorandum is a startling document. It depicts a rushed police investigation and an effort by the prosecutor to patch holes in the case. Supported by more than 40 signed affidavits, the memorandum accuses the police and the prosecutor of indifference to the truth. “Indeed, they consistently subverted and concealed the truth — manufacturing evidence and presenting testimony they knew to be false,” the memorandum states.
McIntyre’s lawyers argue that no reasonable juror would vote to convict with the evidence uncovered by their investigation, which began in 2009. The new evidence includes the following:
• One of two eyewitnesses who testified against McIntyre recanted her testimony and says she was forced to lie, under threat of having her children taken away.
• The second eyewitness, whose testimony McIntyre’s lawyers call a “confusing hodgepodge,” says she felt threatened by the lead detective in the case.
• An eyewitness, who did not believe that McIntyre was the shooter, was not called to testify at the trial.
• Police did not interview a potential witness who had told another witness she knew who the shooter was.
• No physical evidence connected McIntyre to the crime.
• At trial, the prosecutor did not establish a motive, other than telling jurors of a “vendetta” unsupported by any evidence.
• The trial judge and the prosecutor had been involved romantically. The relationship, which had ended three and a half years before the trial, was not disclosed to the defense.
• Two men involved in the drug trade in Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1990s have signed affidavits stating their belief that the real killer was a known enforcer for a drug ring.
• Several months after the trial, a juror contacted the prosecutor and stated his misgivings about the verdict. The juror, Greg Lauber, tells The Pitch that today he believes McIntyre to be innocent.
Looking back, Lauber says he does not believe that police and the prosecutor worked hard enough to make sure they had identified the right suspect. The crime took place in a rough neighborhood during a violent season; that spring, Kansas City, Kansas, was on pace to break its homicide record by the end of the summer. “I got the feeling that this was just a damn thing that happened in the ghetto,” Lauber says.
A retired grain inspector, Lauber blames himself, too. He says he wishes he’d had the “moral courage” to push for a more thoughtful deliberation of the evidence in the jury room.
“I failed Lamonte McIntyre,” he says. “I failed the murder victims. This stuff has got to be taken seriously. I acknowledge my error. This is a bad thing that’s weighed on me for a long time.
“I want to do right now. I want justice.”
Kansas City, Kansas, police responded to the report of a shooting in the 3000 block of Hutchings Street at 2:10 p.m. on April 15, 1994. It was a grisly scene. Blood and brain tissue splattered the interior of the Cadillac.
Niko Quinn, Doniel’s first cousin, was a witness to the crime. She saw a young black man wearing black clothes approach the vehicle and open fire as she walked to a house where here her mother, Josephine, and sister Stacy lived.
A detective took statements from Niko and Josephine Quinn. Another detective spoke to a woman named Ruby Mitchell, who lived two doors down from Josephine Quinn.
It looked like a drug-related crime. There was a crack pipe on the front seat of the Cadillac. Niko Quinn told police that drug dealers had recently beaten Doniel Quinn, believing he had stolen from them. John Quinn, Doniel’s father, told police that his son was involved with people he likened to “cobra snakes” who could inflict “instant death.”
Niko Quinn and Mitchell picked McIntyre’s photo out of a photo lineup and testified against McIntyre in court. Their testimony essentially formed the case.
Niko Quinn was a reluctant witness. She stated in an affidavit that she told the prosecutor in the case, Terra Morehead, before she testified that she did not believe McIntyre was the shooter. She believed that he was taller than the man she had seen, and that his ears stuck out too much. Quinn stated in her affidavit that Morehead told her she could be held in contempt and have her children taken away if she did not testify against McIntyre.
Josephine Quinn also did not believe that McIntyre was the shooter. She signed an affidavit stating that she too spoke to Morehead about her uncertainty. She was sent from the courthouse without testifying.
Ruby Mitchell had put detectives on a path that led to McIntyre. On the day of the murders, she worked with police to develop a sketch using a kit with interchangeable facial features. As she studied the image, Mitchell said it looked like an acquaintance of her niece’s named Lamonte.
By 6 p.m., Mitchell had identified McIntyre as the shooter, claiming that he was the “Lamonte” who had dated her sister.
“Are you absolutely sure this is the party who did the shooting?” she was asked, according to a transcript of a police interview in the memorandum of fact and law.
“Yes,” Mitchell answered.
“Who is this party?”
“Do you know his last name?”
“What is it?”
“How do you know this party?”
“Because he used to to talk to my niece.”
Two hours later, Lamonte McIntyre was booked into juvenile detention. Police picked him up at Fifi’s restaurant, where his mother worked, after asking his grandmother where they might find him.
The memorandum in support of McIntyre’s innocence argues that Mitchell was “confused and coached” during the interview. Mitchell, in fact, did not know McIntyre, a point established at the trial five months later. Her niece was acquainted with a different man named Lamonte, who had nothing to do with the slayings.
In addition to the confusion over “Lamonte,” McIntyre’s lawyers say, there are other problems with Mitchell’s account. They argue that she was standing 100 feet away from the shooter, making it difficult to get a good look at his face. They say police never documented her belief that the shooter wore his hair in braids, which Mitchell insists was the case. “I am positive that the person who shot those men in the car had French braids that went down the back of his neck,” she said in a 2011 affidavit.
McIntyre had a fade haircut popular among young black men in the early to mid-1990s.
In her affidavit, Mitchell attested to her confusion in the hours after the shooting, as well as her fear of the lead detective in the case, Roger Golubski.
The memorandum paints Golubski as a notorious figure in Kansas City, Kansas. McIntyre’s lawyers have obtained affidavits from several witnesses — including an FBI agent and two former members of the Kansas City, Kansas, police department — who speak of Golubski’s reputation for pursuing and manipulating drug-addicted black women and prostitutes. “The women knew that unless they provided what Golubski wanted, that he could arrest them have them held in jail,” a retired FBI agent, Al Jennerich, stated in an affidavit.
Golubski drove Mitchell, who was known to work as a prostitute, to the police station on the day of the murders. In her affidavit, she said Golubski told her he liked black women and asked if she dated white men. Shaken by the killings she had just witnessed, Mitchell said she felt “vulnerable” in Golubski’s presence, unsure if she was going to be arrested for solicitation or offered money for sex.
Golubski retired from the Kansas City, Kansas, police department in 2010 at the rank of captain. He now works as a detective in Edwardsville.
In a brief interview with The Pitch, Golubski was reluctant to address the allegations made in the memorandum of fact and law without knowing more about them. “I’m going to have to get with more people to see exactly what this is,” he said. “But it sounds like a total fabrication in an attempt to get someone out of jail. If someone’s innocent, they need to be out. There’s no misconduct, whatever these allegations are.”
Asked about the memorandum of fact and law’s contention that he maintained a “constant, obsessive pursuit of prostitutes” while he worked in Kansas City, Kansas, Golubski said this is false. “We adamantly deny that,” he said.
Asked about Ruby Mitchell’s statement that she felt threatened by him, Golubski said he does not remember her. “Until I’m more informed here, I really can’t answer it properly for you,” he said. “I’m not trying to not answer it. It’s something 22 years ago. That name doesn’t even ring a bell.”
McIntyre had an alibi. An aunt, a cousin and the girlfriend of another cousin said McIntyre had been going back and forth between the houses of two aunts, who lived a mile and a half from the scene of the crime, on the afternoon of the homicides.
According to the memorandum of fact and law, the alibi witnesses told police that McIntyre made two calls to a cab company around the time Quinn and Ewing were killed. The memorandum states that the police never tried to determine if the calls had been placed.
The memorandum describes other apparent omissions by the investigators, including their failure to obtain a search warrant seeking physical evidence linking McIntyre to the crime. They did not seize the clothes or shoes McIntyre was wearing when they arrested him. The shotgun shells recovered at the scene were not checked for fingerprints.
The case against McIntyre was thin. The memorandum of fact and law accuses Morehead, the prosecutor, of “repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct” in an effort to a win a conviction.
The memorandum accuses Morehead of producing and presenting testimony she knew to be false; concealing evidence that two witnesses told her that Lamonte McIntyre was not the shooter; making improper references to “reliable sources” who supposedly implicated McIntyre; and arguing that McIntyre had a “vendetta” without presenting evidence of his connection with the victims.
One of the issues McIntyre’s attorneys raise is Morehead’s handling of Ruby Mitchell, whose account the memorandum describes as “dubious and shifting.” The memorandum accuses Morehead of eliciting false testimony from Mitchell in order to conceal “inconvenient facts and evidence of police manipulation.”
At the trial, jurors were told that Mitchell had picked McIntyre out of a photo lineup after police learned his name from sources. The taped statement in which she said she knew the young man was never mentioned. (The memorandum of fact and law said it “appears” the statement was withheld from the defense.)
The memorandum of fact and law also raises the issue of Morehead’s relationship with the judge in the case, J. Dexter Burdette. Morehead and Burdette began dating in 1990 and called off their relationship early in the following year. Both were unmarried at the time.
The prior relationship was raised at appeal by another defendant, Terry Lee Hooker, prosecuted by Morehead in Burdette’s courtroom. Hooker was convicted in 1998 of murder and other charges. The Kansas Court of Appeals concluded that the relationship was not sufficient evidence of an unfair trial. In its ruling, the Court of Appeals said the evidence suggested that Hooker’s attorneys may have been aware of the prior relationship at the time of the trial and did not object.
The McIntyre case was tried four years before the Hooker case. McIntyre’s attorneys argue that the relationship was not disclosed and he was deprived of his right to a fair trial as a result.
Burdette presided over two post-trial proceedings. In 1996, he held a hearing after McIntyre asked for a new trial. By this time, Niko Quinn had recanted. Stacy Quinn, Niko’s sister, whom police had not interviewed, testified at the hearing that McIntyre was not the shooter.
Burdette was unmoved. He did not find the Quinns credible and decided that McIntyre did not deserve a new trial. (The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the ruling.) Two years later, Burdette denied a petition from McIntyre asking the court to set aside his sentence. At a hearing — the memorandum of fact and law describes McIntyre’s lawyer’s performance as “disastrous” — Burdette again stated his certainty that McIntyre had received a fair trial.
Burdette continues to serve as a Wyandotte County District Court judge. Morehead left the Wyandotte County D.A.’s office in 2002 and now works as an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Kansas. Neither responded to requests for comment.
Jerome Gorman, the current Wyandotte County district attorney, would not comment on the case because it is pending. He tells The Pitch that he has asked the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to answer the motion to vacate McIntyre’s conviction because of the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. “Since I wasn’t the D.A. when that all came up, I think it’s best that the attorney general’s office handle it,” he says.
Greg Lauber was drinking coffee on a Saturday morning in 2009 when Jim McCloskey, the founder of Centurion Ministries, an innocence project based in New Jersey, knocked on his front door.
McCloskey wanted to talk about the McIntyre case. Lauber was grateful for the opportunity. The case had weighed on him in the years since he had served on the jury. “I hardly ever went a week without at least at some point thinking about this a little bit,” he says.
Lauber remembers being bothered by the lack of physical evidence presented at trial. The eyewitness testimony seemed shaky. Lauber says the jurors were split on McIntyre’s guilt when they sat down and took an initial paper vote. They talked about the case and took a second vote. Only two “not guilty” votes this time.
Eventually, Lauber and the other holdout changed their votes. Guilty.
After the trial, Lauber often wondered if the jury had made a mistake. “I felt guilty that I didn’t hold out,” he says. “I kind of caved in and decided to go ahead and accept eyewitness testimony they had and ultimately voted for conviction.”
Several months after the trial, Lauber contacted Morehead and shared his doubts. The prosecutor told him the right man had been convicted, he stated in an affidavit.
But after speaking with McCloskey 15 years after the trial, Lauber says he came to believe that McIntyre was not just not guilty — he was innocent. Later, Lauber spoke to Cheryl Pilate, a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer in Kansas City. Centurion Ministries asked Pilate to take McIntyre’s case. Pilate is experienced in such cases, having worked to overturn the wrongful convictions of Ellen Reasonover and Daryl Burton in separate murder cases in St. Louis.
After years of collecting and studying the evidence, Pilate, a partner at the Morgan Pilate law firm, tells The Pitch she believes the state brought a “shockingly weak case” against McIntyre. In addition to the lack of physical evidence, she says, the defects in the eyewitness testimony are “glaring.”
The case might have taken a different path if the murders were committed today, when eyewitness testimony is treated more skeptically. Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 72 percent of the more than 300 wrongful convictions in the United States that have been overturned by DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project. This spring, the state of Kansas passed a law requiring police departments to adopt practices for eyewitness identification that reduce the risk of misidentification.
“I think there’s a much greater awareness today on the infirmity and unreliability of eyewitness testimony,” Pilate says. “I think it used to be viewed as the gold standard of evidence. We now know how incredibly fallible it is.”
Pilate is in regular contact with McIntyre. She describes him as a hopeful, caring person who reads widely. (McIntyre was working toward his GED at Donnelly College when he was apprehended.) “He has really tried to nourish his mind as he endures this experience,” Pilate says. “He’s a really thoughtful person, very reflective.”
His mother, Rose McIntyre, visits him every week in Lansing, Pilate says. At his sentencing, his mother told the court the case against her son had been a “nightmare” and that the police had “just picked someone.”
Echoing his mother, Lamonte McIntyre speaks of the case as a nightmare that won’t end, Pilate says.
“He doesn’t know how it happened, why it happened, all those questions. He’s a 17-year-old who got snatched out of his life and was turned into a defendant in a double homicide case. How would anyone feel?”