OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A nearly fifty-year fight for justice is over.
Citing a lack of evidence and other factors, an Oklahoma County Judge has ruled that Glynn Simmons will not face a new murder trial.
Simmons was first convicted 48 years ago of shooting a liquor store clerk to death during a robbery in Edmond and shooting a second woman in the head who survived.
His conviction was first vacated in July, and he was out on bond as he waited for a decision for a new trial.
Glynn Simmons said he served 48 years, five months and 13 days in prison.
As a result of the dismissal, it makes him the longest serving exonerated man to be recorded by the National Registry of Exonerations led by the University of California Irvine.
“I’m free. I’m a free man,” Mr. Simmons said Wednesday at a press conference organized by his attorneys.
The decision to scratch his case and murder conviction came after an acknowledgment that his 1975 trial was conducted unfairly.
Joseph M. Norwood, attorney for Mr. Simmons, said Judge Amy Palumbo’s decision to vacate and dismiss the case was informed in part, due to a missing police report with critical information about suspect lineups that raised doubts about who the primary witness in the case identified.
“Validation and vindication have finally happened. This a lesson in resilience and tenacity. When you know you’re innocent you stick with it,” said Simmons.
His attorneys said they hope to shed light on much needed changes in the court system.
“I hope that we can make some policy changes so we can try and if not eliminate, reduce what’s happened to Glynn,” Norwood added.
Attorney John Coyle called attention to a prominent message over the Oklahoma County Courthouse, by Thomas Jefferson.
“Equal and exact justice to all men, all men…that hasn’t been true, always for Black men in our country, and really isn’t true today,” he said.
“That’s all we want in a court of law. [Glynn Simmons] didn’t get it [before], but he’s fixing to get it now,” he added.
Racial disparities persist within the state’s incarceration rates.
Data shows, while Black Oklahomans make up about eight percent of the total U.S. population, more than 1 in 4 people in Oklahoma’s prisons are Black, according to The Sentencing Project.
“So, the numbers don’t add up so when we talk about justice, you got to consider race is the issue,” said Simmons.
“It’s always been the issue.”
“There’s a lot of guys left behind where I came from, that’s not fortunate to have the team that I have on my side … and they’re still languishing in [prison],” he added.
Simmons said he plans to stay involved with criminal justice reform.
But for now, he forges ahead.
“It’s exciting, it’s beautiful, and I plan to enjoy myself whatever life I have left, really enjoy myself,” he said.
Mr. Simmons is currently raising money to help offset the cost of rebuilding his life, including funds for housing, transportation and medical care, as he’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for anyone interested in donating.