KANSAS CITY, MO – Olin “Pete” Coones, who served 12 years in jail after wrongly convicted of murder, died Sunday, according to a testimony from his attorney.
His death comes three and a half months after his November 5, 2020 discharge, release from the Midwest Innocence Project, and Morgan Pilate legal form. He was 64 years old.
“During this too brief return to his family, Pete first met his grandchildren after being deprived of their joy and laughter for over a decade,” the statement said. “Like so many grandfathers, he loved them and wanted nothing more than to be their trusted source for extra goodies and flexible rules.”
Coones’ death was “the result of continued neglect and abuse by the state”, according to the statement.
It is with great sadness and indignation that we announce that exoneree Olin “Pete” Coones from Kansas passed away today, just 108 days after his discharge. Please read our statement below and hold the Coones family in your hearts. pic.twitter.com/woX7qD19D0
– Midwest Innocence Project (@The_MIP) February 21, 2021
“The evidence suggests that he ultimately succumbed to health problems that went undiagnosed and untreated during his time in prison,” the statement said. “We take comfort in the fact that Pete died a free man.”
In an interview with Action News 41 days after his release, Coones said he thought he would never come home.
“I didn’t need a miracle, I just needed the truth,” Coones said, “and I have a wonder of the truth, and that’s a double blessing.”
Coones’ family and lawyer said they would “continue to seek justice in his memory”.
“His life was stolen because his innocence was irrelevant,” the statement said. “We’re not finished telling Pete’s story. It’s a tragic day for those who loved him. But our resolve to be accountable remains.”
In November, the Wyandotte District Attorney dismissed a murder charge against Coones after the Conviction Integrity Unit discovered new evidence.
Coones was charged with the death of Kathleen Schroll in 2008.
In November, an original medical examiner testified in the case that Schroll’s death was likely a homicide-suicide rather than a double homicide.