Former Missouri Rep. Kenny Hulshof secured six terms as a Republican member of the House and ran for Governor on his tough-on-crime record. That record, however, is now under scrutiny with another abuse cited by a court from Hulshof’s work as a prosecutor — leading to the conviction of a teenager for a murder that he did not commit.
Hulshof prosecuted Joshua Kezer, who was 17, for the 1992 shooting death of 19-year-old Angela Mischelle Lawless. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 60 years. He has spent 15 years in jail before a court found that the prosecution withheld key evidence that would have cleared Kezer.
Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that Joshua Kezer was wrongly convicted of killing Lawless who was found in her car with the motor still running an the Interstate 55 exit ramp.
Callahan singled out the Hulshof for his alleged misconduct as the special prosecutor in the case.
Callahan said Hulshof withheld key evidence from defense attorneys and exaggerated details before the jury. New evidence has revealed that Lawless had DNA material under her fingernails belonging to her ex-boyfriend.
Hulshof is now practicing a Kansas City-based law firm Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus and insists that he did a good job. However, in 2008, an AP investigation found a pattern of such abuses by Hulshof in four other cases prosecutorial errors by Hulshof led to death sentence reversals.
In this case, the court accused Hulshof of concealing (1) investigative notebooks that included references to other suspects and contractions among witnesses; (2) an interview record of a witness who spotted another suspect near the car who was biracial (Kezer is white); and (3) a written statement from an inmate who admitted to lying when he said that Kezer confessed to the crime. In addition, Hulshof told the jury “We put him at the scene, we put a gun in his hand, we put the victim with him, we have got blood on his clothes.” The court said that that statement was untrue.
The question is what the Missouri bar will do about a prosecutor with such a record. In North Carolina, the bar disbarred Michael Nifong for his abuses in the Duke Lacrosse case. That was just one such case of abuse. Of course, he could always become a talk show host.
As for Polsinelli Shalton , the firm still tauts Hulshof as a real catch for the firm on its news site.