Ryan Kirker has spent the last five months in jail, accused of threatening President Barack Obama. But he didn't do it, federal authorities said about a week ago. He has been set free.
That isn't supposed to happen here - not in the United States of America.
But it did.
Kirker, 20, of McMechen, can never get back the nearly half-year he spent behind bars. He will never have a chance to talk with his father again, either. While Kirker was imprisoned, his father succumbed to an illness.
Something went terribly, inexcusably wrong in Kirker's case.
As we have reported, federal authorities accused him of writing letters received at the White House. The missives contained threats to Obama, his wife and daughters. One closed with the words, "KKK forever."
Handwriting analysis, conducted once by the Secret Service and again by a private laboratory, concluded the letters in question were not written by Kirker. About a week ago, a federal judge granted U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld's motion to dismiss the charges against Kirker. The case remains under investigation.
For that reason, don't expect federal officials to talk much about it. Someone sent the letters and apparently remains a threat to the president and his family.
To judge solely by Ihlenfeld's comment that Kirker "was not the author of the threatening letters," however, it appears a very serious miscarriage of justice occurred.
With Kirker held in jail without bond and protesting his innocence, why were the handwriting analyses not performed sooner? Had that occurred, the injustice at least would have been of shorter duration.
Again, nothing can give back to Kirker what was taken from him. Still, a thorough investigation of what happened to him ought to be viewed by federal authorities - and, if not them, Congress - as imperative.
Again, this is the United States of America. That sort of thing isn't supposed to happen here. Federal agencies involved in Kirker's case need to explain why it did - and what will be done to prevent something like it from happening again.