For all of her adult life Kay Lincoln has lead her family’s mission to free her father Rodney Lincoln. Now, after 34 years with her father behind bars, she says she feels like she is running out of time to win his release. Which means every day is busy on his behalf.
“Calling the governor, tweeting the governor, emailing the governor, writing the governor,” she says from her home in unincorporated south St. Louis County.
Rodney Lincoln is behind bars in Jefferson City for the brutal 1982 murder of JoAnn Tate and the assault of her then 4- and 7-year-old daughters in St. Louis. The now 72-year-old Rodney Lincoln has always denied committing the crime.
“It's got to be the most devastating thing in the world to sit there and know you don't belong there,” says his daughter. Devastating for him and his family on the outside.
“It's horrible to know all of the things that he should have been here for,” says Kay Lincoln.
Since Rodney Lincoln’s conviction DNA testing has shown hair used as evidence against him did not belong to him.
And now, Tate's only living daughter has come forward to say as a child she was afraid to question investigators and prosecutors when she agreed to identify Lincoln as her mother's killer. Testimony that was key to his conviction.
“He was not in my house that night. He was never there,” she is seen telling St. Louis prosecutors and
investigators in a video from the non-profit Midwest Innocence Project apparently recorded by officials in December 2015.
“I would be willing to take a lie detector whatever you want…he did not kill my mother,” says Tate’s daughter.
“Mr. Lincoln is in a rare circumstance where there is no evidence left to even suggest guilt,” says the director of the Midwest Innocence Project Tricia Bushnell. She believes investigators and prosecutors coerced and coached her testimony in the 1980’s in order to close the case.
Bushnell says with courts declining to free Lincoln, his best hope for what she and his family says is justice is a pardon from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
“He's excited that he's getting this attention, that people are responding,” says Kay Lincoln of her father with whom she says she speaks every day. “He's hoping that the Governor is listening.”
By email, the governor's office told us today every petition filed by an offender seeking a pardon or commutation that is received by his office is reviewed, and that any remaining decisions on clemency will be made and announced this week.
Governor Nixon's last full day in office is this Sunday Jan. 8.