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Glynn Simmons Spends Over 48 Years in Prison, Declared Innocent

21 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

The Oklahoma County District Court issued a historic decision exonerating Glynn Simmons, who had been in prison for more than 40 years.

Glynn Simmons Spends Over 48 Years in Prison, Declared Innocent - Inmate Lookup

After more than 48 years behind bars, Glynn Simmons, a man convicted of murder in a 1975 liquor store robbery in Edmond, Oklahoma, was exonerated on Tuesday.

Simmons’ almost five-decade-long incarceration is believed to be the longest time served by a wrongfully convicted inmate in the United States, according to the National Registry of Exonerations records.

The exoneration came through a ruling by Judge Amy Palumbo of the Oklahoma County District Court, who declared the 70-year-old Simmons innocent. This comes after he was released on bond in July, a decision made by Judge Palumbo at a status hearing when she agreed to overturn the sentence and judgment at the district attorney for Oklahoma County, Vicki Zemp Behenna’s request.

The Oklahoma County district attorney’s office, led by Behenna, had been reviewing Simmons’ case and discovered crucial evidence that had not been provided to his defense lawyers.

As seen in the updated ruling signed by Judge Palumbo on Tuesday, the court determined “by clear and convincing evidence” that the crime for which Mr. Simmons was imprisoned “was not committed by Mr. Simmons.”

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Glynn Simmons served the longest sentence for a person who was later acquitted—48 years, one month, and 18 days—in prison.

Mr. Simmons described his case as “a lesson in resilience and tenacity” during a news conference after the ruling. He stated that one should not allow anyone to claim that it is impossible because it can happen.

In December 1974, at the age of 22, Glynn Simmons was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with a liquor store robbery that occurred in Edmond, Oklahoma, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. The incident resulted in the death of Carolyn Sue Rogers, a clerk who was shot in the head by two robbers.

Mr. Simmons, along with Don Roberts, was initially sentenced to death, but their sentences were later changed after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided to review their cases. A 1972 Supreme Court decision that declared the death penalty unconstitutional due to its unequal application served as the impetus for this review. Mr. Roberts was released on parole in 2008, as stated by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.

During the initial investigation, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts were put in police lineups after the police investigated two other men, Delbert Patterson and Leonard Patterson, who were involved in an unrelated murder.

According to the national registry records, prosecutors relied on a woman who had been shot during the liquor store robbery, and she identified Mr. Simmons and Mr. Roberts in a lineup. However, the witness later contradicted parts of her testimony.

The legal team for Simmons, under the direction of attorney Joe Norwood, believes that the recent decision opens the door for Mr. Simmons to receive up to $175,000 in compensation and gives him the chance to file a federal lawsuit.

Norwood mentioned that Simmons, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, has been living largely off donations through an online crowdfunding platform.

Norwood emphasized the profoundness of Mr. Simmons’s wrongful imprisonment, stating that he had been deprived of work experience and the opportunity to have a career that would provide financial security for himself and his family. He said that all of that had been taken from him.



Image source: Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA: