Oklahoma man exonerated from death row


Innocence Project client Curtis McCarty was freed this morning after more than 21 years of wrongful incarceration – including 16 on death row – when a judge dismissed the charges that would have led to his third trial for a 1982 murder. McCarty had been convicted twice but both convictions had been thrown out by appeals courts. DNA testing has now shown that semen and hairs recovered from the crime scene do not match McCarty.

McCarty was released this morning after judge Twyla Mason Gray dismissed his indictment, saying the misconduct committed in McCarty’s case was inexcusable. District Attorney Robert H. Macy and lab analyst Joyce Gilchrist both committed serious and repeated misconduct to secure McCarty’s conviction. Gilchrist was fired in 2001 due to fraud she committed in McCarty’s case and others; she was involved in at least two other convictions later overturned by DNA testing.

"I want to know, where is Joyce Gilchrist and why isn’t she in prison?" Gray said at this morning’s hearing, according to the Oklahoma Gazette.

Macy, who was the Oklahoma County District Attorney for 21 years, prosecuted McCarty in both of his trials. Macy sent 73 people to death row – more than any other prosecutor in the nation – and 20 of them have been executed. Macy has said publicly that he believes executing an innocent person is a sacrifice worth making in order to keep the death penalty in the United States.

"This is by far one of the worst cases of law enforcement misconduct in the history of the American criminal justice system," said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. "Bob Macy has said that executing an innocent person is a risk worth taking – and he came very close to doing just that with Curtis McCarty."

McCarty is the 201st person exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States and the ninth in Oklahoma. Fifteen of the 201 exonerees spent time on death row.

Read the full Innocence Project press release



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