Relatives of two men who claim they are wrongfully convicted want to know why the men have been moved into solitary confinement in the Tulsa Jail.
Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter had been held in the Tulsa Jail’s general population until Wednesday, when they were both moved without explanation to solitary confinement cells, said Edith Lockridge, Carpenter’s aunt.
Scott and Carpenter are awaiting a ruling in April from Tulsa District Judge Sharon Holmes, who could overturn their 1995 life sentences. The pair have served more than 20 years in prison for the death of 19-year-old Karen Summers. The single mother was killed in a drive by shooting in 1994.
Before he was executed for another killing in 2014, Michael Lee Wilson gave a videotaped interview to attorneys at the Oklahoma Innocence Project about Summers’ death. Wilson said he actually fired the shots that killed Summers and that Scott and Carpenter weren’t in the car.
Police found Wilson with the murder weapon as well as the car used in the drive by shooting. He was promised a reduced charge of accessory if he testified against Scott and Carpenter.
Two days after giving that videotaped statement, Wilson was executed for the 1995 beating death of QuikTrip clerk Richard Yost. Among Wilson’s last words: “Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter are innocent.”
All other major witnesses who testified at Carpenter and Scott’s trial have since recanted, either through affidavits or testimony during a hearing Jan. 30 in Holmes’ court. She called the arguments during their hearing “compelling” and said she would make a ruling April 13 about whether to uphold their sentences.
Lockridge said family members were told Carpenter and Scott were supposed to be transported back to the Department of Corrections on Monday.
“The sheriff’s department failed to transport them and left them in general pod and then out of the blue they put them in solitary confinement,” she said.
Attempts to reach officials with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were unsuccessful late Saturday.
Lockridge said she believes the two were moved to solitary cells because their case has raised allegations that Tulsa police coerced witnesses to testify falsely in their 1995 trial. She said the move happened after a civil attorney visited them in jail this week.
“It’s retribution, plain and simple. Let’s cut to the chase. I worked for the Sheriff’s Department not once but twice. … This is their known practice.”
Lockridge said she called the jail late Saturday and was told such moves could be due to overcrowding in the jail, which she believes is a civil rights violation.
Lockridge worked in the jail when it was located on top of the courthouse and again briefly after the sheriff regained control from a private operator. She said solitary confinement is intended for inmates who pose a risk to other inmates and that family members are not aware of any issues involving Scott or Carpenter while at the jail.
“They’ve been locked down from 22 years with no problems. This doesn’t make any sense and we are very, very concerned about it. … Here again, justice is not prevailing.”