TULSA, Okla.-- They spent more than 20 years in prison for crime they didn’t commit. Two men are free, but the journey isn’t over.
Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter were wrongfully convicted of murder when they were just 18.
A judge declared them innocent, but Tulsa County appealed to our state’s highest criminal appeals court.
Despite more than two decades in prison knowing they were innocent, their attitude on life and freedom now is nothing short of inspirational.
“It was hard… for 22 years knowing you didn’t do something,” Carpenter said.
“At times yeah I felt like I know the truth is going to come out eventually... but when?” Scott said.
More than two decades ago, they were booked into the state pen in McAlester.Carpenter said the prison looked like death.It took everything in him just to get through the day.
A jury convicted Carpenter and Scott in the 1994 drive-by shooting that killed Karen Summers.
It happened outside a house party in Tulsa.
Michael Wilson was arrested for the murder too, but the DA eventually reduced his charge, and he got out just a few years later.
But Scott and Carpenter remained locked up… denied appeal after appeal.
“Over 22 years, you’re going to have ups and downs,” Scott said.
“I actually started writing letters back in 1996. I wrote thousands and thousands of letters,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter wrote attorneys, famous athletes, and even President Obama, begging for help. Scott was writing letters too.
The Oklahoma Innocence Project answered in 2011.
“Anytime human beings are involved in a process, mistakes are going to happen. Either on behalf of the government or on the defense lawyer’s behalf, or the judge or the jurors,” Oklahoma Innocence Project Executive Director Vicki Behenna said.
A shocking confession in 2014 broke the case wide open.
Michael Wilson, the Tulsa shooter who was released years earlier, was convicted in another murder.
Just before he was executed, Wilson told the Innocence Project that Scott and Carpenter were innocent.
He made that same confession on the execution table.
So a Tulsa judge took another look at the case and declared them free men.
“Oh wow... when I was free to go that was like the best thing that had ever happened in my life,”Carpenter said.
Surprisingly, they aren’t angry. They aren’t bitter or resentful.
“Why wouldn`t I be happy?! I’m free now!” Scott said.
Thursday night, Carpenter and Scott thanked the people who helped free them at the Innocence Clinic at Oklahoma City University’s School of Law.
“If I’m going to be upset or angry or anything, I’m going to channel that into doing something that’s going to be helpful,” Scott said.
Now they’re sharing their story, hoping to inspire others as they finally get to walk free.
“That’s all I’ve been doing is smiling. I’m enjoying life,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter is now married and working. Scott is working and attending college in Muskogee.