Two brothers who served decades for murders they didn’t commit expose long standing systemic misconduct in Tulsa police dept
Corey Atchison and Malcolm Scott speak out after being freed when judge ruled one’s sentence was a ‘miscarriage of justice’ and a death row prisoner confessed to the other killing
The two brothers from Tulsa were wrongfully convicted of two separate murders – Corey Atchison, 49, served nearly 30 years for the 1991 murder of James Lane, while Malcolm Scott, 43, was freed after serving more than 22 years
Scott and his co-defendant De’marchoe Carpenter were convicted in 1994 slaying of a 19-year-old Tulsa woman, in 1994
Each man was sentenced to life plus 170 years after they were convicted of first-degree murder and related charges in a drive-by shooting that killed Karen Summers.
Moments before his execution for another murder on Jan 9, 2014, Michael Lee Wilson confessed to the killing – He had made the same confession to his attorney, two days earlier
In both cases, Tulsa police coerced witnesses into testifying against brothers, while throwing out clues and evidence pointing to the actual killers
Eric Cullen, a private investigator, uncovered wrongdoing by Tulsa investigators in these cases
Scott and Atchison whose interview with Dateline NBC will air on Friday said they want to draw attention to the fact that this type of police misconduct is still happening in the country
Framed by police; Corey Atchison [right], was the first of the brothers to be wrongfully convicted of murder after Tulsa police coerced witnesses into testifying against him. Less than three years after, his younger brother Malcolm Scott [left], 43, was jailed on a similar murder rap by the same police dept employing the same tactics. They were freed three years apart. In each case, the judge made a finding of ‘Actually Innocent’
Two brothers, African Americans, who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison for separate murders are speaking out about their years-long quest in Oklahoma to have their names cleared.
Corey Atchison, 49, was the first of the brothers to be wrongfully convicted of murder in 1991, after Tulsa police coerced witnesses into testifying against him.
Less than three years later, his younger brother Malcolm Scott, 43, was jailed on a similar murder rap by the same police dept employing the same tactics in 1994.
They were freed three years apart. In each case, the judge made a finding of ‘Actual Innocent’ .
Atchison was 20 when he was jailed for life with possibility of parole. He served almost 30 years before the conviction was overturned.
Scott was 18 when he was sent to jail for life without possibility of parole. He served 20 years before his conviction was overturned in 2016.
Corey Atchison and Malcolm Scott from Tulsa told their shocking and disturbing odyssey to Dateline NBC while revealing disturbing behavior by the Tulsa Police department.
‘It’s important for me for this story to be told so people know that it truly exists,’ Scott said in the interview with NBC News.
The two brothers revealed that they made a pact with one another while wrongfully incarcerated, that whoever got out first would help get the other one out.
The brothers were languishing in prison until a private investigator, Eric Cullen, uncovered wrongdoing by investigators that led to their incarceration.
When asked if there was ever a point over the last 20 years when he thought he was going to die in prison, Atchison, 49, said: ‘Times when you get denied in court you feel low. You just wanna say ‘give’ sometimes.’
Corey Atchison was convicted in June 1991 of fatally shooting James Lane during a robbery on Aug. 3, 1990, in the area of Fourth Street and South Atlanta Avenue.
Then-District Judge Clifford Hopper upheld the jury’s recommendation of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, which the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld in 1994.
Private investigator Eric Cullen [photo], did not believe the sham convictions were a coincidence after noticing that the the same Tulsa police unit was involved in the controversial life sentences for the two brothers on similar manner
Brothers Malcolm Scott and his older brother Corey Atchison were sent away for all of their youth on murder charges trumped up by Tulsa PD
“As Corey Atchison’s case currently stands, if there were a trial today, the state would not be able to present a single witness to say Corey Atchison shot James Lane or a single piece of forensic evidence that indicates Atchison is guilty of Lane’s murder,” , defense attorney Joseph Norwood wrote in a brief filed May 14, last year.
Norwood also alleged prosecutors committed misconduct during Atchison’s trial when they did not properly disclose information about witnesses that could have benefited his defense.
Among that information was evidence that could have pointed to another individual – a career criminal, who had been convicted of at least one robbery – as the man who shot and killed Lane.
A life stolen: Corey Atchison [photo], was freed from prison after a judge heard that police ignored the testimony of the young men who named a different killer and forced them into fingering Atchison instead
Asked what was the lowest point of his ordeal, Atchison said, ‘It would have probably been in situations when I wanted to be out there with my daughter [who was born two months after he started his life sentence] to help her and I couldn’t,’ he said.
Atchison recalled being asked to give up custody of his newborn daughter.
‘They sent me paperwork tryin’ to forfeit my custody, sayin’ I was unfit because I was in prison,’ he said.
‘It felt like – I was failin’ her. And it felt like it wasn’t even my fault.’
Atchison, 49, was freed last year after serving nearly three decades in prison for the 1991 murder of James Lane.
James Lane was shot dead in what police called a gang-related killing.
During Atchison’s 1991 trial, the prosecution’s star witness, 16-yer-old Doane Thomas, led by Assistant DA Tim Harris testified that he saw Atchison shoot Lane amid an attack by members of the Bloods street gang, according to Tulsa World archives. However, Thomas submitted an affidavit in 2017 recanting his trial testimony and was among the witnesses who testified during the evidentiary hearings.
Atchison’s trial lawyer, Chris Grant, argued that the state’s case was dependent on testimony from two admitted liars, at the time.
History of systemic misconduct in Tulsa PD: In May 2016, Atchison’s brother, Malcolm Scott [left], and and De’marchoe Carpenter [right], were freed from prison after serving 22 years behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit
Another Wilson victim: Convenience store worker Richard Yost was beaten to death in the 1995 murder that sent Michael Lee Wilson to death row and subsequent execution
Some 19 years went by and the two men exhausted their appeals when in 2014, Michael Lee Wilson, who was moments away from being executed by way of lethal injection, confessed to killing Summers.
‘Malcolm Scott and De’marchoe Carpenter are innocent,’ Wilson said just moments before his execution.
Wilson was sentenced to death for his role in the brutal 1995 beating death of convenience store clerk Richard Yost.
Malcolm Scott’s hands are held up his attorneys Christina Green [left] and Josh Lee [right], after his 1994 conviction for murder and sentencing to life was overturned on May 9, 2016. He’d served 20 years before police and prosecutorial misconduct, that led to the wrongful conviction in Tulsa, was quashed
De’marchoe Carpenter hugs his fiancee’s daughters on his release from jail after his conviction for murder was overturned on a finding of ‘Actually Innocent’, same as Malcolm Scott
Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter were released hours after a Tulsa County judge declared them innocent of a 1994 fatal drive-by shooting for which they were convicted as teenagers.
“It’s been a long journey, but we’re here. We made it,” said Scott, who was released first. “I’m just thankful for a second chance at life.”
“I waited a long time for this day,” Carpenter told reporters when he was released. “It’s just — it’s a wonderful day.”
Scott and Carpenter, went to jail aged 18 an were released at the age of 39.
Each man was sentenced to life plus 170 years after they were convicted of first-degree murder and related charges in a shooting that killed 19-year-old Karen Summers.
Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes granted their applications for post-conviction relief on May 16, 2016 and declared them “actually innocent” based on new evidence that was not presented to the jury that found them guilty in 1995.
Scott and Carpenter filed the applications in February and March 2014. They had made unsuccessful appeals shortly after they were convicted.
It was later learned that the two witnesses whose testimony led to the convictions of Scott and Carpenter recanted. The witnesses alleged that police threatened to charge them with the shooting unless they testified against Carpenter and Scott.
The new evidence includes sworn statements from three men who claim to be the actual perpetrators of the drive-by shooting, as well as signed affidavits from eyewitnesses recanting what they testified at Scott and Carpenter’s trial.
Those statements emerged with the help of Tulsa private investigator Eric Cullen, who began investigating Scott and Carpenter’s case in 2006, and the Oklahoma Innocence Project.
The project is a legal clinic at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, picked up the case in 2011.
The shooting for which Scott and Carpenter were convicted was directed at a group of people outside at a house party in the 200 block of East 29th Street North on Sept. 10, 1994.
Michael Lee Wilson [photo] just before his execution admitted to the 1994 murderer of Karen Summers – 19 years into the life sentence for Scott and Carpenter, the two men convicted in the murder, Wilson, who was moments away from being executed by way of lethal injection, confessed to killing Summers. The two men had exhausted their appeals when he confessed in 2014
Michael Wilson initially faced a murder charge along with Scott and Carpenter, but his charge was reduced to accessory after the fact after he testified against them at a pretrial hearing.
On Jan. 7, 2014, Wilson confessed in a videotaped interview with an attorney from the Oklahoma Innocence Project that he had fired the fatal shots and that Scott and Carpenter were not involved.
Wilson was executed two days later for another murder, and among his last words, he again stated that Scott and Carpenter were innocent.
In the interview, Wilson named two others who had been in the vehicle with him: Billy Don Alverson and Richard Harjo.
Alverson and Harjo were also convicted of the 1995 murder for which Wilson was executed. Alverson was sentenced to death, and Harjo — 16 at the time — was sentenced to life without parole.
In 2010, Alverson sent letters to Scott and Carpenter stating that he had driven the vehicle in the drive-by shooting, Scott and Carpenter’s post-conviction-relief attorneys told Holmes at the hearing.
Alverson wrote to Scott and Carpenter that he would have told the court they hadn’t been in the vehicle when Wilson fired the shots, but he hadn’t been called to testify, the attorneys said.
Alverson was executed Jan. 6, 2011.
Malcolm Scott [right] hugs De’marchoe Carpenter [left] after they were released from jail in May, 2016 after serving 20 years of a wrongful conviction for a murder they did not commit
De’marchoe Carpenter [left] later sued the city of Tulsa and the two detectives involved in the case in their private capacities
The City of Tulsa, the police and prosecutors have denied coercing witnesses in both cases.
Atchison was in prison when he heard that his younger brother, Malcolm Scott, was also sent away behind bars.
‘At first, I was like, this is my fault because he followed in my footsteps,’ he said.
‘It felt like this was my child being taken away.’
Scott said his brother doesn’t have anything to feel guilty about.
‘And I definitely can’t hold him responsible for something that I didn’t even do myself.’