A man in Oklahoma who spent 48 years in prison for a murder he did not commit has been exonerated. Oklahoma county district attorney, Vicki Behenna, said prosecutors had failed to turn over new evidence in the case. That included a police report showing that a witness may have identified other suspects.
Glynn Simmons, 71, was convicted in 1975 of killing a worker during the robbery of a liquor store in the city of Edmond. He and another man, Don Roberts, were picked out in a police line-up by a clerk who had been shot in the head by the two robbers.
Simmons was initially put on death row. After a decades-long fight for justice he was released in July and has now been exonerated.
“This court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the offence for which Mr Simmons was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned … was not committed by Mr Simmons,” the Oklahoma county district judge Amy Palumbo ruled. He served 48 years, one month and 18 days in prison, making him the longest-serving inmate in the United States to have been exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
This isn’t the first case of prosecutorial misconduct in the US or Australia.
We have some examples from our own reports, but the legal system has failed to expose them all. But Griffith University research has shown that prosecutorial errors are causal and contributing factors in some 17% – almost 1 in 5 – of wrongful convictions in Australia.