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Man gets cleared of murder he did not commit after more than 48 years in prison

Man gets cleared of murder he did not commit after more than 48 years in prison

Glynn Simmons always maintained his innocence after the crime

An Oklahoma man has been cleared of murder after spending almost 50 years behind bars for the crime.

Glynn Simmons, who is now 71-years-old, entered prison in 1975 after he and his co-defendant Don Roberts were both convicted of the December 1974 murder of Carolyn Sue Rogers.

Simmons and Roberts were sentenced to death for the crime, but in 1977 their sentences were reduced to life in prison.

Rogers died as a result of a gunshot wound she suffered during the robbery of a liquor store in Edmond, though Simmons maintained he had been in Louisiana at the time of the shooting.

It wasn't until this year, after Simmons had spent 48 years behind bars, that Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna determined prosecutors had violated Simmons' right to a fair trial in 1975 because they had failed to disclose a police lineup report to his trial lawyer.

Simmons' lawyers, Joe Norwood and John Coyle, described the lineup report as 'powerful innocence evidence', because it showed an eyewitness did not identify Simmons.

Glynn Simmons maintained his innocence for nearly 50 years.
NBC News

Behenna agreed to dismiss Simmons' murder conviction and release him from prison earlier this year, though at the time she was reluctant to describe it as an 'exoneration'.

"The state had a failure of proof — that’s the only reason for the requested dismissal," Behenna wrote in court filings.

"This simply is not an 'actual innocence' case where DNA was used to exonerate a person; or a conviction was obtained using ‘forensic’ evidence that was later debunked; or where an eyewitness recanted their identification; or where the actual perpetrator of the crime confessed to the commission of the crime and the details of that confession were later corroborated by independent evidence."

However, Norwood and Coyle argued that the lineup report would have 'prevented the State from being able to try Simmons at all'.

They also pointed to 12 witnesses who testified Simmons had been in Louisiana at the time of the murder.

A reviewing decades' worth of transcripts, reports, testimony and other evidence, Oklahoma County District Court Judge Amy Palumbo granted Simmons' request to update his dismissal to a declaration of 'actual innocence'.

The ruling means Simmons served the longest wrongful imprisonment in US history.

Glynn Simmons has now been declared actually innocent.
NBC News

In a statement, Palumbo said: "This Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the offense for which Mr. Simmons was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned in the case at hand, including any lesser included offenses, was not committed by Mr. Simmons."

After being cleared of the murder, Simmons said the day had been a long time coming.

"This is the day we've been waiting on for a long, long time," he said.

"It finally came. We can say justice was done today, finally, and I'm happy."

His lawyer, Cole, said that while it's 'too late for justice', Simmons is still deserving of retribution.

The 71-year-old is eligible for up to $175,000 in compensation from the state of Oklahoma for his 48 years, one month and 18 days in prison, but it could be years before that money comes through.

In the meantime, Simmons is living off donations as he undergoes treatment for cancer.

You can donate to Simons' GoFundMe page here.

Featured Image Credit: NEWS9 / GoFundMe

Topics: US News, Crime