Making up for lost time, exoneree marries childhood sweetheart

A man exonerated in a 1994 drive-by shooting is released from prison and marries his childhood sweetheart.

Donate
Andre Harris, left, officiated a wedding ceremony Sunday for exoneree De'Marchoe Carpenter and his fiancee, Brandy Guest. Courtesy photo
Andre Harris, left, officiated a wedding ceremony Sunday for exoneree De’Marchoe Carpenter and his fiancee, Brandy Guest. Courtesy photo

De’Marchoe Carpenter didn’t waste any time after being exonerated and released from prison.

On Sunday, less than two weeks after being released, De’Marchoe married his longtime girlfriend, Brandy Guest. Andre Harris, the brother of Eric Harris, officiated the ceremony.

De’Marchoe and Brandy (who now goes by Carpenter) have known each other since they were children.

“Her mother stayed next door to my grandma back in the 1980s and we were all young but I remember her. … Later on, about 12 years later, that’s when we started talking,” De’Marchoe, 39, told The Frontier.

The teens began dating but their relationship was cut short in 1994, when De’Marchoe was just 17. He and his friend, Malcolm Scott, also 17, were arrested in the drive-by shooting death of Karen Summers. The two boys were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In recent years, multiple witnesses recanted, saying police pressured them to implicate Malcolm and De’Marchoe.

One of the alleged witnesses, Michael Lee Wilson, confessed to being the shooter. Wilson’s confession was taped by the Oklahoma Innocence Project days before he was executed for a separate killing.

As the lethal drugs flowed into his body Jan. 9, 2014, Wilson’s last words included: “De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott are innocent.”

Earlier this month, Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes declared the men innocent, exonerating Malcolm and De’Marchoe. They served more than 20 years in prison.

De’Marchoe said after his arrest, Brandy kept in touch with him initially, attending his trial and writing letters to him in prison.

“We wrote for about a year and a half, maybe two years, and we lost contact. Thirteen and a half years later she came back.”

For the past six years, Brandy has been writing and visiting De’Marchoe in prison as he sought to prove his innocence. Few people except for Brandy and his family listened to his pleas back then. Later, private investigator Eric Cullen and the Oklahoma Innocence Project took up his cause.

Having Brandy’s support “meant a lot, because there’s guys in prison, they haven’t had a visit in eight or nine years,” De’Marchoe said.

“To get mail, to get pictures, that means a lot to a guy in prison.”

The two often talked about what life would be like if De’Marchoe were released.

De'Marchoe Carpenter and his then-girlfriend, Brandy Guest, pose for a photo during a visit in prison in 2009. Courtesy photo.
De’Marchoe Carpenter and his then-girlfriend, Brandy Guest, pose for a photo during a visit in prison in 2009. Courtesy photo.

“I knew that she was the person that I wanted to be with. I don’t want to be one of those guys to get out and go back to the streets. I want to be a grown man, an adult. I fantasized about this day,” he said.

They talked about small things, like working out and taking walks together. Now he and his new bride are actually doing those things.

“This morning we got up and walked to the park with the dog,” he said Tuesday.  “I am, like, in awe. The world is beautiful.”

De’Marchoe said he has several job offers and is working on getting his driver’s license and a car. He also wants to help his mother, who has been on dialysis.

“The next thing for me is my mom needs a kidney. I am going to get some type of test and see if I’m a match.”

Brandy Carpenter said her five children — ages 13 to 19 — love having De’Marchoe around, and not just because he enjoys doing household chores they forget to finish. She’s also helping him navigate an entirely new world.

“We really just take everything slow. Day by day, I’m showing him some of the small stuff. I really just can’t believe he’s here even now,” she said.

The two know they will face challenges ahead but will face them together. De’Marchoe has a charge pending alleging he was involved in an assault while in jail, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Both said having Harris marry them made the ceremony even more meaningful. Harris’ brother was shot and killed by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates last year, kicking off investigations that led to Bates’ conviction and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s indictment and resignation.

Harris said he became an ordained minister in 2012, about a year and a half after being released from prison himself. He has focused on outreach to people recently released from prison and those who don’t feel comfortable in a traditional church.

The wedding was the first Harris officiated and he said he sought guidance from his church pastor. The small ceremony attended by family and friends was held in the lobby of Smolen, Smolen & Roytman’s building downtown. The law firm represents Eric Harris’ estate in a federal civil suit against Bates and the county.

Harris said officiating the ceremony was an honor.

“For this brother to do 23 years in prison and get out and want to marry the love of his life, I was elated. It was such a blessing to me to be a blessing to him.”

Donate