Oklahoma Innocence Project case in Tulsa court

Posted at 7:41 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 20:41:46-05

TULSA-- Demarco Carpenter and Malcolm Scott have spent more than 20 years in jail. On Friday, they were back in a Tulsa County courtroom for an evidentiary hearing.

Carpenter and Scott are claiming their innocence, and with the help of the Oklahoma Innocence Project, they presented their case Friday. The have requested post-conviction relief and want to be released from prison with their records cleared. 

Previously, a Tulsa County jury found the two men guilty of killing 19-year-old mother Karen Summers during a drive-by shooting.

Michael Wilson was also questioned for the murder and charged. In exchange for his testimony though, Wilson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory to murder after the fact. 

Wilson then found himself back in a court room and charged with the 1995 murder of Richard Yost. Wilson was found guilty, but before being executed in 2014 he said Carpenter and Scott were innocent in Summers' murder trial. 

On Friday, defense lawyers for Carpenter and Scott showed a jailhouse interview with Wilson where he said he shot and killed Summers. Wilson said he was with two other men, including Richard Harjo.

Harjo is serving a life sentence related to the murder of Yost. In court Friday, he also testified to seeing Wilson murder Summers, not Carpenter and Scott. 

The state argued that Wilson's statements weren't under oath and could not be cross-examined, but Judge Sharon Holmes allowed the video interview to be submitted as evidence.

Family for Carpenter said they have been working for more than 10 years to see their loved one released from jail. They started working with the Oklahoma Innocence Project recently.

"We would like people to know that Demarco and Malcolm are innocent of this crime," Lametra Carpenter, Demarco's sister said. "We are just glad to be back in court, thankful for the Oklahoma Innocence Project getting us here, and we know they will be coming home soon."

The Oklahoma Innocence Project began in 2011 and is based at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. A spokeswoman with the organization said Friday's case is their first to reach a judge. 

"1,200 requests have come in since we opened, from people in Oklahoma who say that they're innocent. Of those we have closed about 600 of those cases, for either lack of evidence or a variety of reasons," Brook Arbeitman said. 

After hearing from witnesses, considering evidence and hearing closing arguments, Holmes said she will rule on the hearing on April 13 at the Tulsa County Courthouse.

At that time, Carpenter and Scott could be sent back to jail, given a new jury trial or released and have their records expunged. 


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