South Kansas City Blast Site
Five innocent people were convicted in February 1997 in the deaths of six Kansas City firefighters in 1988. These two stories run a total length of 20,000 words, and won the Missouri Bar Association's annual "Excellence in Legal Journalism" award. On Oct. 30, 1998, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal in the Kansas City Firefighters case. Read the full opinion here and our analysis of the opinion. On Oct. 4, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari in the case.
by J.J. Maloney
[Editor's Note: to read more about this case go to http://kcfirefighterscase.com ]
Indictment and Trial
The ATF has four "National Response Teams" - teams which respond to disasters such as the Oklahoma City bombing - and Special Agent Dave True was leader of the Midwest team. He is a distinguished looking man with silver hair and mustache.
With 26 years of government service under his belt, True, who was in his early 50s, was ready to take retirement from the ATF and open the next chapter in his life, possibly as a consultant or a security executive for a corporation. There was a hitch, though. For more than eight years, the unsolved firefighters case had dogged him. As the ATF's top special agent in Kansas City, True didn't want to retire with the biggest case of his life hanging over his head, unsolved.
According to True's testimony at trial, the firefighter investigation was dead in the water by November, 1993. (For five years, True had maintained steadfastly that organized labor was responsible for the explosion.) Then he testified that he got a call from Captain Joe Galetti of the Kansas City Fire Department, who wanted True's help in getting the case on the "Unsolved Mysteries" television show, a last-ditch effort to solve the case.
In November, 1994, as the "Unsolved Mysteries" segment on the case was being prepared, True said he received a call from a witness saying Richard Brown had admitted to being involved in the explosion. "If there was a starting point for investigating the Marlborough area," True testified, "that was probably it."