The Oklahoma Innocence Project will go to Tulsa County District Court later this week with new evidence in a 1994 case where two convicted murderers could get another chance to prove they had nothing to do with the crime.
Malcolm Scott and Demarchoe Carpenter were 17 when someone drove past a party and shot into the crowd. Karen Summers died that night, and police focused their attention on the two men after witnesses identified them as the shooters, according to The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt:
Vicki Behenna, executive director of the OKIP, said the two men have maintained their innocence through trials and appeals that led to life sentences for both.
The project, with help from Oklahoma City University law students, pored over decades-old investigation notes and case files. The students interviewed people involved in the investigation and witnesses. They approached death row inmate Michael Wilson, who confessed that he shot Summers.
The Oklahoma Innocence Project used Wilson’s taped confession and testimony recanted by two witnesses to go back to court for Scott and Carpenter.
On Friday, the judge could set both men free or give them a new trial. The judge could also deny their requests outright. Tulsa County DA spokeswoman Susan Witt declined to discuss the case with Denwalt, saying prosecutors will present their opinion in court:
The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office could argue that Scott and Carpenter should stay behind bars. Behenna said the office has been cooperative with OKIP’s requests.
“If we had more time I’d love to sit down with the DA in Tulsa and go over the evidence with him, but we don’t have that time so we’ll just present the evidence (at the hearing),” Behenna said.
Although a ruling isn’t expected for several weeks, the convicted men could be granted a reprieve by the judge. Behenna said OKIP could claim victory if Scott and Carpenter are ordered to be released or given a new trial. The judge could also deny the post-conviction relief request.
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