John Kinsel was born in September of 1968 in Trinity, Texas. A short drive north of Houston, Trinity is a small town with only two stop lights. The youngest of seven kids, John was eight years old when his father shot himself. His mother passed a year later from breast cancer, leaving John an orphan at age ten. John grew up fast, living with his older sisters and working odd jobs to help pay the bills. He dropped out of high school and eventually found steady work as a tow truck operator. A hardworking man with a difficult past, John was just beginning to make ends meet and provide for his newborn son when he was accused of a crime that never took place.
Photo: John & his sister Sharon
John’s nightmare began with alarming allegations from his then girlfriend Adrienne’s daughter, Alyssa Medlin, who claimed that John had raped her while he and her mother were living together. Despite a lack of medical evidence corroborating Alyssa’s allegations, testimony from Alyssa’s family members in support of John, and a last-minute attempt from Alyssa to reveal that she was lying, John was convicted for aggravated rape of a minor — a crime that he did not commit and that never even took place. John received a sentence of life without parole, and he has been sitting behind bars for over 26 years, consistently maintaining his innocence.
In 2005, six years after the trial, Alyssa came forward with a sworn recantation, admitting that John never raped her. Alyssa had lived with the guilt of sending an innocent man to prison for too long, she said, and she wanted to do the right thing. After a formal hearing, a trial judge ordered a new trial, but a Louisiana appellate court overturned the order, and higher courts — based solely on procedure and legal technicalities — have continued to deny John a new and fair trial.
Today, Alyssa not only continues to maintain that her allegations were a lie, but she is also actively fighting alongside her family and John’s sisters to correct this injustice and set John free.
Alyssa testified that John first abused her while living at her grandmother’s house, though John never lived there with the family. She also testified that John abused her at her grandfather’s house, but her mom and grandfather confirmed that John never spent a night there during the alleged period of abuse.
Alyssa’s family members described their close living quarters and how difficult it would have been for John to commit the alleged crimes without anyone else noticing.
In the original trial, the State’s medical witness testified that the findings of the physical examination were just as likely to be consistent with a child that had not endured sexual assault as one who had been abused. Yet that medical witness still stated to the jury that his findings were “consistent” with sexual abuse in Alyssa’s case, while admitting a lack of confidence in his claim at trial.
More recent medical science has since emerged which confirms the findings of the physical examination as “normal and unrelated to a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse.”
In the years following the trial, Alyssa admitted to her friend, Georgette Evans, that she had lied by accusing John, and that fear of legal consequences for admitting to perjury kept her from coming forward with the truth.
At a 2006 hearing, Alyssa confirmed to a judge that John never raped her.
Today, Alyssa is fighting for John’s freedom alongside her mother and John’s sisters.