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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Oklahoma judge declares man innocent after nearly 50 years in prison for murder


OKLAHOMA CITY — In a historic ruling, an Oklahoma judge has exonerated Glynn Simmons, who spent nearly 50 years in prison ⁤for a murder he did not commit. This makes him the longest-serving inmate to be declared innocent of a crime.

Simmons, 71, was​ released in July ⁣after⁣ prosecutors agreed ‌that crucial evidence in his case was not disclosed to his​ defense lawyers. ⁤On Tuesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Amy ⁤Palumbo ruled him innocent, stating, “This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the⁢ offense for which Mr.⁢ Simmons was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned … ⁣was not committed by ⁤Mr. Simmons.”

Having served 48 years, one month, and 18 days since his conviction, Simmons holds⁤ the unfortunate title ⁤of the longest imprisoned U.S. inmate to be ⁢exonerated, according to data kept by ⁢The National Registry of Exonerations.

Following the ruling, Simmons expressed feeling⁣ vindicated after his time in⁤ prison, which initially included ​being sentenced to⁤ death row. “It’s a lesson ​in resilience⁣ and tenacity,”⁢ Simmons⁢ said during a brief news conference. “Don’t let nobody tell⁤ you that it (exoneration) can’t​ happen, because it​ really can.”

Simmons has consistently maintained his ⁣innocence, claiming he ​was⁢ in Louisiana at the time of the 1974 slaying of ⁣Carolyn‍ Sue ⁢Rogers inside an Edmond liquor store. He ‍and co-defendant Don Roberts were both convicted in 1975 of ​the murder and initially sentenced to death. ​Their‌ sentences were later reduced to life​ in⁤ prison in 1977 ⁢after⁢ U.S. Supreme Court rulings related to capital punishment. Roberts was released on parole in ⁢2008.

In July, Palumbo ordered a ‍new trial⁣ for Simmons after District Attorney Vicki Behenna admitted that prosecutors had failed ​to disclose evidence ⁤in ‍the case, including a police report that showed an⁣ eyewitness might have identified other suspects‌ in the case. ‍Behenna⁤ later ​announced that there is ⁤no longer ‍physical⁤ evidence in the case against‍ Simmons and⁤ stated she would not retry him, although she opposed declaring him‌ actually innocent.

The ruling now makes Simmons eligible for up to $175,000⁤ in‍ compensation from​ the state for wrongful conviction and opens the ‌door for a federal lawsuit against⁣ Oklahoma City and law enforcement involved⁢ in ‌Simmons’ arrest and conviction, according to defense attorney Joe Norwood. However, compensation ​is likely years away, and Simmons is currently living on donations while undergoing treatment for cancer that was​ detected after his release from prison.

“Glynn is having to live ‍off of GoFundMe, that’s literally ‌how the ⁢man is surviving right now, paying rent, buying food,” Norwood said. “Getting him compensation, and getting ​compensation is ‌not for sure, is in the future and ​he‌ has​ to sustain himself now.”

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  1. Finally, justice prevails after almost half a century of wrongful imprisonment. Heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. #InnocenceConfirmed

  2. Agree – Finally! It’s a relief to see the justice system correcting its mistakes and setting an innocent man free after all these years.


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