A former Jackson County prosecutor who helped send an innocent man to prison for 23 years will not face discipline, according to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Amy McGowan has been at the center of several botched cases, including the wrongful conviction of Ricky Kidd.
During arguments before the Missouri Supreme Court on Sept. 28, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel said that McGowan withheld crucial information about an alternative suspect and a person of interest just before Kidd’s March 1997 trial. He was convicted on two counts of murder.
Kidd was freed in August 2019 after McGowan’s conduct was brought to light. A witness also recanted his identification of Kidd and evidence about the other suspects surfaced.
On Tuesday, Missouri’s high court issued its decision, saying “there is not evidence to establish any of the claims of professional misconduct alleged in the information against Respondent, Amy A. McGowan.”
In a phone interview Kidd said it was “a sad day” for the criminal legal system in Missouri.
“I just think there’s damage that has taken place in my life that cannot be reversed, that cannot be repaired and she was a direct cause of a lot of suffering, not just for me but for my family as well.”
“She has victims. This isn’t a one off. She left victims in her trail.”
While the disciplinary case focused on McGowan’s actions in Kidd’s case, she has been suspected of wrongdoing in other trials.
McGowan was accused of withholding evidence in the case against Richard Buchli II, a Kansas City attorney who spent about five years in prison for the 2000 death of his law partner before his murder conviction was overturned. Charges later were dismissed.
In 2013, the Kansas Supreme Court found McGowan, as a prosecutor in Douglas County, made improper comments during closing arguments in five cases between 2007 and 2009. In one instance, the court vacated a sentence in a child exploitation case. She was removed from her trial duties in Douglas County after that, but allowed to return to regular courtroom duties in 2014.
McGowan retired from the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office in November 2019, shortly after Kidd was freed.
In April, Keith Carnes, of Kansas City, was released from a Missouri prison after 18 years in prison. The Missouri Supreme Court determined an eyewitness’ account was not disclosed to Carnes’ defense team.
A witness also said then-Jackson County assistant prosecutor McGowan pressured her into picking Carnes.
The Star’s Luke Nozicka contributed to this story.