Nonprofit launches fundraiser to bury man who died maintaining innocence in KCK murder

GoFundMe

A Kansas City-based nonprofit is raising funds for the family of a prisoner who died maintaining his innocence in a 2002 Kansas City, Kansas, murder.

John Calvin, 56, died at the El Dorado Correctional Center Wednesday after suing the Kansas Department of Corrections for failing to treat his colon cancer.

The Midwest Innocence Project, which provides legal services for prisoners hoping to overturn convictions, launched the fundraiser to assist Calvin’s family.

According to the GoFundMe, his family lovingly called him by his middle name, Keith, and said he brought “light, hope and kindness” everywhere he went.

“He bore the heaviest of burdens, a wrongful conviction followed by terminal illness, yet he never lost hope that the system would one day deliver the justice he deserved,” the page reads.

Calvin was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery in the Dec. 12, 2002, death of John Coates, who was shot on the 2700 block of Haskell Avenue.

Calvin’s December lawsuit claimed he was another victim of former KCK police detective Roger Golubski, who was previously accused of framing another innocent man in a multi-million dollar lawsuit and was charged with sexual assault and conspiring to sex traffic underage girls in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Calvin’s co-defendant, Melvin Lee White Jr., received a five-year sentence after taking a plea deal. White admitted he pulled the trigger and has repeatedly said in court and during interviews that Calvin was innocent.

“He ain’t do nothing; I did,” White told KCTV5 in an interview several years ago. “I should be doing the time, not him.”

After spending over 19 years in prison, Calvin would have been eligible for parole in May, according to his attorneys.

But Calvin, who claimed the KDOC did not provide proper medical assistance after he began exhibiting symptoms and subsequently denied him proper nutrition, fell months short of that opportunity. In the December emergency filing, Calvin asked to be moved to a hospital. His request, however, was denied.

In a previous interview with The Star, Calvin’s daughters, Kiardra Calvin and Jalisa Bluford, called the KDOC neglectful.

“They failed him,” Bluford said.

Calvin was a beloved, father, uncle and friend, according to the fundraiser.

“John Keith Calvin died an innocent man,” the page says. “Everyone knew this, and a whole community fought for him.”

The Star’s Luke Nozicka contributed to the reporting of this story.