State approves settlement in fifth wrongful-conviction case

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The state Finance Council on Thursday approved an $826,000 settlement in the case of a Wyandotte County man wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in the 2008 fatal shooting of a Kansas City, Kansas, couple.

The council, made up of the governor and leading legislators, agreed to the settlement with the estate of Olin “Pete” Coones that had already been approved by Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson.

Coones was 50 when he was charged with first-degree murder in the April 2008 shooting deaths of Carl Schroll, 64, and his wife, Kathleen Schroll, 45, in their home. He was convicted in 2009.

Coones was convicted of killing Kathleen Schroll, but not her husband, based on testimony of an unreliable jailhouse informant.

Coones lawyers argued that he was set up for a shooting that later turned out to be a murder-suicide.

His conviction was eventually vacated and charges against him dismissed last November.

Coones was released from jail after serving 12 years and 213 days behind bars.

Coones died Feb. 21, just months after being released from jail.

As part of the settlement, a certificate of innocence was issued and records of his conviction and arrest were ordered expunged.

From Dec. 18, 2018, though this year, 11 individuals have filed lawsuits against the state under the mistaken-conviction statute.

Of those, five have reached judgment and payment has been made or is in process.

In a sixth case, the district court ruled against the person making the claim and the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed that no payment was owed.

The other five cases remain in litigation in district court.