Man exonerated after 48 years in prison

An Oklahoma judge has cleared Glynn Simmons, 70, of a murder conviction after he spent 48 years behind bars, marking the longest known wrongful imprisonment in the US.

Publication: 21.12.2023 - 14:23
Man exonerated after 48 years in prison
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Simmons was released in July when a district court found that his defense team did not receive crucial evidence. On Monday, the county district attorney acknowledged insufficient evidence to justify a retrial.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Amy Palumbo declared Simmons innocent. "By clear and convincing evidence, this court finds that Mr. Simmons did not commit the offense for which he was convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned," Judge Palumbo stated in her ruling.

"It's a lesson in resilience and tenacity," Simmons told reporters, as reported by the Associated Press. "Don't let anybody tell you that it can't happen, because it really can."

Simmons was convicted for the 1974 murder of Carolyn Sue Rogers during a liquor store robbery in an Oklahoma City suburb. He was 22 when he and co-defendant Don Roberts were sentenced to death in 1975, a punishment later commuted to life imprisonment following US Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty.

Simmons consistently maintained his innocence, claiming he was in Louisiana at the time of the murder. In July, a district court found that prosecutors had withheld evidence, including a witness's identification of other suspects.

Simmons and Roberts's convictions were partly based on testimony from a teenager shot in the back of the head, who had identified several other men in police line-ups and later contradicted her testimony, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Roberts was released on parole in 2008.

In Oklahoma, individuals wrongfully convicted and incarcerated are eligible for up to $175,000 (£138,000) in compensation.

Simmons, now battling liver cancer, has a GoFundMe campaign raising funds for his living expenses and chemotherapy, which has already garnered thousands of dollars in support.

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