Kezer speaks out about civil lawsuit settlement

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - He was sentenced to prison, then released.

It all began with the 1992 murder of Mischelle Lawless in Scott County.

Joshua Kezer went to prison for her death, but walked free in February 2009.

It doesn't end there. Kezer filed a civil suit against Scott county, former Sheriff Bill Ferrell and former deputy Brenda Schiwitz.

A settlement was reached. Although Kezer doesn't want the dollar amount released, we can tell you it's a pretty big number.

He explains why he did this, and whether there's more to come.

"There was a period of time I didn't think this was going to happen," said Kezer. "I thought the loopholes in the state would deny me the right, but thank God for brilliant lawyers."

Since walking out of prison a year and a half ago a lot has changed for Joshua Kezer.

"I'm very blessed and thankful for every ounce of freedom I have," said Kezer.

Kezer says he's still getting used to life outside prison walls.

While free, he still felt justice wasn't served.

He was arrested and convicted he says on unreliable evidence and false statements.

"Why did I file the suit?  Because I thought it was the right thing to do for me, and the right thing to do for my family. It was the right thing to do all together. I think each one of us have value. I'm in a position to encourage a lot of people to fight for their value," said Kezer.

He says he was pleased with the outcome, and it was roughly what he was asking for.

"It didn't take as long a we thought it would. We thought it would take years," said Kezer.

But, the county settled.

"I took the position if they accept our offer it's their benefit not mine because I was ready to go to trial. I was ready to make Ferrell and Schwitz testify. I wanted to hear their answers, and put them in a position of accountability," said Kezer.

With the money he says he wants to live a little...may be travel, and buy a new car.

But mostly he says he wants to start a foundation, and give to "Innocence Projects" hoping to help others like him.

"I want to help guilty people also because part of my message is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to reach out to people who need to be restored, people who need to be forgiven."

He's driven now perhaps more than ever.

"The quantity of my life just changed, but the quality remains the same," said Kezer. "That did not change with this money".

Kezer says there could be more lawsuits to come in the future.

Heartland News did reach out to the Scott County Presiding Commissioner who had no comment about the suit.

Reporter Crystal Britt also spoke with former Sheriff Bill Ferrell and former deputy Brenda Schiwitz who are named in the recent lawsuit. Both had no comment.

As for the latest in the unsolved Mischelle Lawless case...Sheriff Rick Walter says just this week his department has taken two calls on possible leads. He believes they're getting closer and closer to cracking the case.

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