OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Monday, September 10, Perry Lott and DeMarchoe Carpenter, two Oklahoma exonerees, will share their journey to freedom during a program titled “Stories from the Innocent.” The event will take place at Oklahoma City University School of Law’s McLaughlin Hall, 800 N. Harvey Avenue, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law in New York City, the Innocence Project works to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
Last month, on July 9, Innocence Project client Perry Lott was released from prison after 30 years of wrongful incarceration from a conviction in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. Despite exculpatory DNA evidence, District Attorney Paul Smith offered Lott a sentence modification in the form of time served.
According to the Innocence Project, Lott agreed to accept this settlement so he can “move forward with certainty in regaining his life and not risk years of litigation while a motion to vacate his conviction is resolved in the courts.”
“We believe that DNA and other new evidence clearly establish Perry Lott’s innocence and show that the last 30 years he has spent incarcerated were years stolen from him by the State of Oklahoma,” said Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney Karen Thompson, who represented Lott along with local counsel Douglas Parr. “No physical evidence has ever connected him to these crimes.”
De’Marchoe Carpenter, along with Malcome Scott, both received their freedom on May 9, 2016 after serving 20 years. The two men were wrongly convicted of murder in the 1994 Tulsa County drive-by shooting of Karen Summers.
As reported by Patrick McGuigan, of The City Sentinel, the Oklahoma Innocence Project took the lead role in documenting their innocence and securing their release.
In September 1994, Carpenter and Scott, both eighteen, were sentenced to life in prison for the Summers murder, even though a few hours after the crime the Tulsa police had found the weapon and vehicle used in the shooting under the control of a man named Michael Wilson.
A summary account from the Innocence Project stated, “On Jan. 7, 2014, just two days before his execution for another murder, Wilson confessed to the Project, and again in the execution chamber that he was actually the trigger-man and that Scott and Carpenter were not in the car with him.”
The exonerations were the first-ever for OKIP, which began to work for their release in 2011.
At the time of Carpenter’s and Scott’s release, then law School Dean Valerie K. Couch at OCU stated, “This is such a powerful experience for our law students. They gain hands-on experience working with clients, while learning about the inner-workings of the criminal justice system.
“Through their experience in the Project, students unite their knowledge, skills and passion for justice in work that is real and life-changing for the wrongfully convicted like Malcolm and De’Marchoe,” Couch added.
The Oklahoma Innocence Project (OKIP) at OCU’s School of Law is dedicated to identifying and remedying cases of wrongful convictions in Oklahoma.
There have been 34 exonerations in Oklahoma listed on the National Registry of Exonerations.
Nationwide, a total of 2,263 exonerations have occurred since 1989.
An OCU press release reported, “The main causes of wrongful conviction are eyewitness misidentification, unvalidated and improper forensic science, false confessions, informants, government misconduct and inadequate defense.”
The work of the Project at OCU is sustained entirely by private donations with all of its legal services offered at no charge to the client. From initial investigation to litigation, costs in support of its clients include hiring experts and private investigators, court documents, copies, and travel expenses to speak with witnesses.
Registration is available now online to hear Lott and Carpenter’s compelling “Stories from the Innocent.”