A judge on Tuesday, 16 July, freed an Oklahoma inmate who has served nearly three decades in prison for a 1991 killing, saying he did not commit the crime.
Corey Atchison, 48, was released by Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes, who said she believes a key prosecution witness was coerced and that Atchison was innocent.
"“I don’t really know what I want to do, because my goal all these years was just to be free.”" - Corey Atchison
"Great day," said Ruth Scott, Atchison's mother, as she left the courthouse. "I knew he didn't do it. I knew he didn't do it, I knew he didn't do it when it happened," Scott said to reporters outside the building.
Prosecutors immediately filed a notice of appeal of the ruling, and former District Attorney Tim Harris – who prosecuted the case as an assistant district attorney – has filed an affidavit denying he ever coerced a witness.
Atchison was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1991 for the fatal shooting of James Lane in Tulsa in 1990 during what police said was a gang-related attempted robbery.
The finding of "actual innocence" by Holmes makes Atchison eligible for up to $175,000 in compensation for a wrongful conviction under Oklahoma state law.
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