TULSA — The attorney of a man who was wrongfully convicted of a 1991 murder has released a statement in response to comments recently made by former Assistant District Attorney Tim Harris and a statement by Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.
Corey Atchison was declared innocent Tuesday. Atchison had been serving life in prison for first-degree murder of James Lane.
On Friday, Atchison's lawyer Joseph Norwood issued a statement after Kunzweiler and Harris commented on the overturned conviction.
"Harris and Kunzweiler have brought into question the credibility of a witness that accused Mr. Harris of coercion," Norwood said in the statement. "This witness is the sole witness and piece of evidence that then-Assistant District Attorney Harris used against Corey Atchison at his trial in 1991. If Harris and Kunzweiler questioned the credibility of the lone witness against Atchison, the case should have been dismissed. Further, the jury at the trial didn’t hear but a small fraction of the evidence in Atchison’s case. There are six known witnesses to the murder of James Lane that claim someone other than Atchison is the shooter. Some of these witnesses were not adequately disclosed to Atchison for his trial. Others were not called to testify. There has never been physical evidence against Atchison. As the case stands, the State of Oklahoma does not have a single piece of evidence indicating Atchison in the shooter. All of the evidence in Atchison’s case indicates he is innocent. That is why Atchison was found actually innocent by the Court on July 16th."
In an affidavit filed Tuesday, Harris claims he never coerced a witness to falsely testify in the preliminary hearing and jury trial.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Kunzweiler said:
"The people who repeatedly elected Tim Harris as their District Attorney did so because he embodied integrity," said Kunzweiler. "I came to work for Mr. Harris in 2002 because of his honesty and integrity. I have never had an occasion to call that into question. Mr. Harris signed and submitted an affidavit in this case which categorically refuted the unsubstantiated allegations against him. Twelve men and women listened to all of the evidence in this case and they rendered their judgment that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, 25 years after the fact, comes a single spurious claim which runs completely counter to the stellar reputation Mr. Harris developed over his entire lifetime. Suffice it to say, the State of Oklahoma will be appealing the ruling of Judge Holmes."
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