KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man acquitted of murder charges more than two and a half weeks ago is still locked up.
FOX4 is hearing an urgent plea from this man’s family and his attorney as they fight for his release.
“Now with three weeks passing and he’s still locked up, sitting idly up in this jail, it’s just heart-wrenching,” Charlene Wright, Dave Steel’s sister, said.
FOX4 was able to get some answers for this family and his lawyers, weeks after they started asking questions. But 68-year-old Dave Steele will be behind bars for at least 52 days after being acquitted before he will even get a chance at freedom.
It all comes as his family struggles to understand why — after a jury found Steele not guilty of a 2021 murder outside of a Westport restaurant.
Why is he still behind bars?
“If he’s done something, we would be OK: Well you did the crime, you have to do the time. He’s done nothing,” Wright said.
“I would describe what is happening to Mr. Steele right now as an injustice but one that is very typical in our state,” Broc Exposito, Steele’s attorney, said.
Steele was first convicted of murder in 1971 as only a 16-year-old. At the time, he was given life with the opportunity for parole. He was eventually released, but after committing a robbery in the ’90s, he went back to jail.
In 2014, he was again granted his freedom from a parole board that felt he had earned it after spending a total of more than 40 years behind bars. His family said he was doing right and living right.
“This was a changed man that I loved what he had become, we loved it,” Wright said.
But in 2022, more than a year after the murder that happened in 2021, Steele was charged — in turn ensuring his arrest and having his parole revoked. His attorney Broc Exposito, a former prosecutor in the office that charged him, took the case knowing the evidence just wasn’t there.
“When they saw Dave Steele’s name registered to that vehicle and realized he had a prior conviction, the work stopped there” he said.
On Oct. 19 of this year, 12 jurors found him not guilty. His attorney said he should have been released, but Steele hasn’t even been given the chance for freedom — and he won’t get that chance for another 33 days.
“It is inhumane if you ask me. That’s the only word I can come up with,” Wright said.
“We have stigma against people who commit crimes; however, unfortunately, we let that get in the way of justice being done,” Exposito said.
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After Tuesday, FOX4 inquired and, afterward, the Department of Corrections said there is a hearing now set for Dec. 10.
In a statement the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office tells FOX4: “We respect the jury’s verdict, but it’s up to the parole board to determine whether he remains on parole.”