Tremayne Guinn And Ricky Kidd – Using Poetry To Endure Wrongful Convictions
Jaws of Justice Radio has committed to bringing forward cases of wrongful conviction each month in 2019. Some are the victims of mistaken identity, or faulty forensic evidence and many are victims of official misconduct. Not all of the wrongfully convicted are innocent, some were overcharged in an effort to get a plea and received a longer sentence than was appropriate for the crime they did commit. It is a part of the Jaws of Justice Radio mission to make our listeners aware of the faults in the justice system and the misconceptions we have about how the system works or doesn’t work. We want to put a human face on those who are caught in the system and those who are part of the system.
Tremayne Guinn and Ricky Kidd both have valid claims of innocence and have learned that writing poetry helps them cope with the frustrations of the legal system and the degradations of incarceration.
* Tremayne Guinn’s Case Facts *
On Septmber 11, 1998, Ms. Lori Clanin, was returning to her apartment in a Central Kansas City area around 5:30 am. C.J. & Tremayne Guinn, were walking the streets, returning from an early morning run for cigarettes. As Ms. Clanin was taking her groceries from the car, C.J. approached Ms. Clanin, with a handgun, demanding her valuables. Tremayne Guinn, having no interest in C.J.’s impulsive behavior, continued to keep walking.
As Ms. Clanin, gave resistance, C.J. discharged the firearm, striking Ms. Clanin in her breast area. He then fled & ran. Subsequently, Ms. Clanin injury was not life threatening, where she was able to notify authorities that she was robbed & shot.
Detectives were able to interview Ms. Clanin, where she worked with them to generate a computer composite of her assailant. This composite was placed in the Kansas City Star & the The Call newspaper where it began to generate leads.
Police received a tip from an apartment manager nearby the crime who claimed to have seen a person who resembles this composite sketch created by police. She stated that, ” the gentleman frequented a tenant ( C.J. )
who lived in her complex”.
Detectives learned that the apartment was in the name of C.J.’s grandmother, which they visited her to determine the identity of the man they believed to be in the composite. They learned that Tremayne Guinn, was the man who apartment manager was referring to.
Once Guinn, was brought into custody he immediately began to explain the events of the dreadful morning that caused Ms. Clanin, injuries
( both mental & physical ). He shared with the authorities that C.J., was the individual who approached, robbed & shot Ms. Clanin, while he played no role in the commission of the crime. Apparently, the authorities were not convinced as they showed Ms. Clanin, a photo lineup including Guinn, which she identified as the man who approached & robbed her. Tremayne Guinn, was charged with the robbery & shooting while C.J. was never interviewed, nor was photos of C.J. ever shown to Ms. Clanin.
On ( March 25, 1999 ) Mr. Guinn, was found guilty of ( 1 st degree robbery, assault & 2 counts of aca ) & sentenced to a total of 39 years inside the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Ricky Kidd – Midwest Innocence Project Client
In 1996, Ricky Kidd was wrongfully convicted of the double-homicide of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges in Kansas City, Missouri. Witnesses to the crime testified that three men entered Bryant’s home in the middle of the day. The two victims were found dead, Bridges in the basement and Bryant in the street outside his home. Bryant’s 4-year-old daughter was discovered alive in a closet inside the house.
Ricky became the lead suspect in the case after an anonymous tip came in naming him as one of the killers; evidence suggests this phone tip may have been called in by one of the actual perpetrators. Ricky had what should have been an airtight alibi for the crime: he was at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Lake Jacomo Office at the time of the murders, filling out an application for a gun permit.
Ricky and co-defendant Marcus Merrill were charged with the crime. Merrill had flown to Kansas City from Atlanta shortly before the murder with two individuals, Gary Goodspeed, Sr., and Gary Goodspeed, Jr. The three of them—Merrill and the Goodspeeds—alibied themselves together at the time of the crime. Although all evidence indicated three perpetrators were involved, the State never charged a third person or attempted to bring a third person to justice.
Ricky was tried jointly with Merrill, who later confessed to being a real perpetrator in the crime, along with the Goodspeeds. Unfortunately, Ricky received woefully inadequate counsel. Ricky’s attorney failed to, among other things, investigate Ricky’s solid and verifiable alibi; request a separate trial from Merrill, which would have more accurately presented the lack of evidence against Ricky; and perhaps most damning, failed to object to Merrill’s attorney’s claim that Ricky’s fingerprint was found in the getaway car, when in fact, Ricky’s fingerprint was only found in his own car. Both Ricky Kidd and Marcus Merrill were convicted and sentenced to life without parole.
Ricky continued to maintain his innocence, exhausted his state appeals, and moved to the federal district court. Represented by UMKC law professor Sean O’Brien in his federal habeas proceedings, Ricky’s innocence became clear. Investigation revealed that Merrill and the Goodspeeds had committed the crime together, accounting for all three perpetrators—leaving Ricky the odd man out. Merrill’s compelling testimony that it was he and the Goodspeeds alone that committed the crime was presented to a federal judge. Physical and other evidence corroborated Merrill’s testimony. Unfortunately, because of the Eighth’s Circuit legal standard stating that evidence cannot be “new” if it was able to be discovered at the time of trial, Ricky was denied relief.
Ricky has spent the last 20 years + fighting to prove his innocence from inside prison walls. The Midwest Innocence Project, along with co-counsel Sean O’Brien and Cindy Dodge, now represent Ricky Kidd in his last hopes for freedom. In November 2013, Ricky’s team filed for DNA testing of evidence that could reveal that it was the Goodspeeds, and not Ricky, who were at the crime scene. In his filing, Ricky’s team explained that DNA from either of the Goodspeeds would be enough to prove his innocence—again, at the time of the crime, the Goodspeeds and Merrill alibied themselves together. Indeed, all evidence pointed to their collective guilt. However, because the addition of one Goodspeed meant the addition of both, neither of them have been brought to justice: To charge the Goodspeeds without recognizing Ricky’s innocence would bring the count of perpetrators to four. In February 2016, the court ordered DNA testing. While testing is underway, MIP filed a Rule 91 petition on Ricky’s behalf, outlining his innocence and asking for his immediate release.
The costs of a wrongful incarceration are not suffered by Ricky alone. On December 6, 2016, Kansas City Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks told Governor Nixon that Ricky Kidd is innocent and that we know who really committed the crime. Governor Nixon did not grant this request.
The JoJR Calendar for the week of January 21st
Corey’s Network invites survivors of murder to their weekly workshops to learn how to deal with grief, the media, investigation, court, and moving forward after a homicide has occurred. The next workshop, Orientation for people who want to volunteer with Corey’s Network, will be held Monday, January 21st, 6 to 8 PM at the Church of the Four Corners, 14300 E. US HWY 40, KCMO. The church is located East of the HyVee at 40 Hwy and Noland Rd. For more information and listing of future workshops call 816.834.9161 or email [email protected]
Survivors Unite is uniting families who have lost a loved one to violent crime. They understand that grief is experienced in different stages and help families heal and learn to properly release their emotions. Survivors United meets every third Monday of the month and will meet Monday January 21st, 7pm at Margaret’s Place, 7217 Troost, KCMO.
The Kansas City Chapter of Missouri Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants will have their monthly meeting Monday, January 21st 6:30pm at the Chestnut Avenue Family Resource Center, 3811 Chestnut Ave, KCMO. MO CURE advocates for the human rights of prisoners in Missouri prisons and jails as well as those who have returned to society, by lobbying state and local government, direct contact with corrections officials and a quarterly newsletter sent to supporters and prisoners.