Cover Story: John Kinsel's Life Without Parole

Categories: Cover Story, Crime

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This week's feature tells the story of John Kinsel, a man who will spend the rest of his life locked up at Angola Prison for a crime his accuser has since said he didn't commit. Alyssa Medlin testified as a nine-year-old that Kinsel -- her mother's boyfriend -- had raped her for years. The girl's family didn't believe Medlin, a child with a history of lying. One of her friends had compelling evidence that Medlin had made it all up. But this story wasn't told during the shoddy investigation, and Kinsel was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Angola doesn't allow journalists face time with inmates, but we chanced to meet one of Kinsel's best prison friends, Robert Piazza, in New Orleans. Piazza got life and 40 for selling heroin, but was set free when the sentencing laws changed. Piazza spent a decade in prison with Kinsel.

They met in the hobby shop, where both men would spend all their free time making ornate stainless steel jewelry and hand-tooled leather belts. At first, Piazza didn't know why Kinsel was there. "One of the first things you learn in prison: a real convict doesn't ask why you're in," he said. "You meet someone and you like them or don't like them. I'm not going to befriend some child molester." He eventually found out why Kinsel was in, but Piazza said he knew his friend was innocent.

During their decade together -- and after Kinsel spent futile years in the prison law library searching for an effective appeal -- Kinsel learned he had gotten a new trial. "They don't just let anybody go," Piazza said. "You gotta be innocent 10 times over for them to let you go."

Kinsel's ticket to freedom was handed to him by Medlin. Now an adult, she came forward and said she made up the accusations. A judge ordered a new trial for Kinsel. But it wouldn't be so easy. Medlin was deemed totally untrustworthy by the prosecutors who had believed her every word as a child. Now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the case.

Except for a short one-time conversation with Medlin's mother Adrienne Alberts, none of the accuser's immediate family would talk to the Houston Press for this story. In response to phone calls, Alberts wrote via text message: "Do not call me or my children again. I told you already and you are invading our privacy."

Meanwhile, the man Medlin permanently put behind bars is desperate for one last "invasion of privacy" in the form of a new trial; one, he hopes, that will bring out the truth and set him free.

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Judyletney
Judyletney

Thank you for telling John's story. He is my 1st cousin and I believe it is about time the truth be told. I believe that if a person does the crime, they should do the time, however, John has done much time for this terrible thing he is accused of.John, if you can see this, we are all praying for you to come home. Back to Texas where you belong and with a huge family of support waiting for you. I love you John.Judy

DorothyGearheart
DorothyGearheart

Thank you Mandy Oaklander. John is my uncle and a great man our family much appreciates you for doing this. Its a great to hear some people acctually care about someone they dont even know. You are a wonderful person and wanted you to know. And thank you from my whole family.

Donnadarling29
Donnadarling29

to the kinsel family hold your heads up high and let john know that he is a good person and bad things happen to good people and that he is well known in this town and that everybody knows the truth and kids do as they're told or whats put in there heads so just let him know that everyone is wishing him the best and to keep his faith and whats really sad is there is many people that we all know that is innocent and is behind bars but god knows the truth and the people that are innocent have to miss out on family passing away or kids getting married or family functions etc and that is time they will never get back so im wishing you all the best

sharon
sharon

What can we do to help? (Besides pray for John and his family).

DEDE1257
DEDE1257

John may not have been the upstanding citizen but he is in jail for something he did not do. I know a few people on drugs and some are dangerous and some with a heart of gold. I know a few politicians and police officers more dangerous than some of these people that are on drugs. The just of it... is that the story has been recanted. So if our justice system (which is suppose to be the best in the world) can not admit the mistake made to a falsely accused man what is next your son, my son or maybe my grandson? Lets get it right. He is not in jail for anything but the accusation of a confused little girl who now is trying to be a women doing the right thing. Its not about the sister-in-law, the girlfriend or a car be broken into. Its suppose to be called JUSTICE.

Casey Plaisance
Casey Plaisance

Ms eileen... Where the hell do you get off talkin so much trash about everyone like u maybe perfect? I do not kno you nor do I ever want to meet you. But this article is not for shit talking purposes. It is to get an innocent man's story out there. The law is very crooked & alot of people kno that. You are very low to say john is where he needs to be for possibly having threatened adrienne's life. Theres a large difference. & its not your place to make that statement. As for Stacy, my mother, her name needs to stay the fuck out of your mouth. Like I said, I dont kno nor have I ever heard of you, so how could you possibly kno what has happened within my lifetime to say shit like that about my mother? Again, its not your place. There was no child endangerment ever in my life & I am not stupod to be saying this. My mom worked very hard & busted her ass to provide for us. How we lived is NONE of your damn business so back the hell off & get where you belong which is obviously not here. & anyways, I don't see how any of the shit u said relates to any of this. None of it connects so shut the fuck up. The main focus of this is where it is in the article. John was falsly accused, alyssa tried to come forward, she wasn't allowed & now we wait. Hats that. We are all very proud of alyssa for her attempt to make right but what can anyone do now but feel for john? He may not be perfect but who is?? He doesn't deserve the punishment he has gotten & that's all that is trying to be pointed out. Keep my family's business out of your mouth. It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

LEllis
LEllis

Ms Oaklander, Thank you for taking an interest and writing this story about John. I have been married to John's cousin for many years and in that time John has stayed with us alot. I have children of my own and I would never hesitate to leave them with John. A hell raiser John may have been but not a child molester.I hate a child molester more than anything in this world but knowing John "NOONE" will ever make me believe he is guilty of this crime. My husband and I give John our full love and support and again appreciate your efforts for trying to help give him some small meaure of justice.

Lawsoneileen
Lawsoneileen

A one sided story, Or should we say a 3 person story... If Rick had thousands of dollars why did he lose his apartment, as for the pills I seem to remember you falling out of chairs and not being able to hold conversation, Stacy is a waste of life, Running from the police because of Doctor hopping, child endangerment and as for Lacey and her family, LIES LIES LIES..... You never said anything when it was going on. John you stalked Adrienne, broke into her car and told her you would kill her... Maybe you are where you need to be. Lets try to see all sides of the story before we take sides, We should only throw stones if we are sin free.........................

casey plaisance
casey plaisance

Oh by the way, very immature of you to bash on someone you don't even kno.. Dumb fuck.

Mary Kinsel
Mary Kinsel

Thanks Mandy this is my e-mail address if you need to contact me! Thanks so much

Dennisrhonda45
Dennisrhonda45

hi mary!this is rhonda from louisiana,i want u to know that i think of yall often and think of john every day,i pray everyday that justice is set right,and john is set free,you and alice keep ur heads up this will work out,they cant keep a good man down

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