Henry Jamerson served nearly 24 years in prison for a 1991 rape he says he didn’t commit. He’s trying to clear his name after DNA evidence was tested and cast doubt on his conviction. But prosecutors are still fighting a bid to have his conviction overturned.
Tulsa has a history of high-profile convictions that have been overturned. Oklahoma ranks 10th per capita in the country in overturned convictions with 45 since 1989, according to data from The National Registry of Exonerations. Sixteen of those overturned cases happened in Tulsa.
- Sedrick Courtney was convicted in 1995 of armed robbery after a woman was blindfolded and beaten during a break-in of her apartment in Tulsa. The victim told police she believed it was Courtney who had attacked her. A Tulsa police laboratory analyst testified that hair found at the scene was similar to Courtney’s. The Innocence Project began requesting access to DNA evidence from Courtney’s case in 2007, but Tulsa Police said it had been destroyed. When evidence was eventually located and tested, it ruled out Courtney as the source. His conviction was overturned in 2012 and he later won an $8 million settlement with the city of Tulsa for his wrongful conviction.
- Michelle Murphy’s murder conviction was vacated in 2014. Murphy was 17 years old when she found her infant son, Travis, stabbed to death in her kitchen in 1994. She was charged with her son’s murder after giving police a false confession, according to the Innocence Project. Prosecutors told Murphy’s attorney that blood from the scene belonged to her son, but later told jurors that test results from the blood could not rule out Murphy as suspect. The jury convicted her based on the blood evidence and a recording of a juvenile neighbor who suffered from mental health issues and had hanged himself by the time of the trial. The neighbor told police he had looked through Murphy’s windows and saw her son in a pool of blood and Murphy with blood on her arms. A judge sentenced her to life without the possibility of parole in 1995. She was freed in 2015 after DNA testing on the blood revealed it belonged to an unidentified male. Prosecutors dismissed Murphy’s case and a judge ruled her innocent.
- Malcolm Scott and De’Marcho Carpenter’s murder convictions were vacated in 2016. Scott and Carpenter were convicted in the 1994 killing of 19-year-old Karen Summers and the wounding of two others. A third man, Michael Wilson, was also arrested after police found him trying to hide a pistol that had been used in the shootings. Wilson eventually told police he gave the gun and ammunition to Scott and Carpenter and hid the gun for them. Scott and Carpenter were sentenced to life plus 170 years in prison in 1995. In 2014, just before his execution on an unrelated murder conviction, Wilson told investigators he had actually killed Summers and blamed it on Scott and Carpenter. A Tulsa County judge vacated Scott and Carpenter’s sentences in 2016, declaring them “actually innocent.”
- Corey Atchison’s murder conviction was vacated in 2019. Atchison, who is Malcolm Scott’s half-brother, was convicted for the1990 shooting and killing 29-year-old James Lane. Atchison, who was 19 at the time, said he and his friends heard the gunshots, saw Lane in the street, and urged others to call 911. Atchison said he tried to help the dying man. He stayed at the scene for hours that night, before police searched his vehicle and found nothing illegal. Months later, a 16-year-old named Doane Thomas implicated Atchison as the shooter in a phone call with detectives. Thomas later said detectives coerced his identification of Atchison. Two other suspects, Ben King and 15-year-old Demacio McClendon, also later implicated Atchison, and claimed to have been threatened and coerced by police. Atchison was sentenced to life in prison in 1991. A Tulsa County judge vacated Atchison’s conviction in 2019, ruling it was a “fundamental miscarriage of justice” and that eye witnesses had been coerced to testify against Atchison. The judge said: “Without those witnesses, I don’t think a jury would have found Mr. Atchison guilty of this crime.”