Tulsa Man Found Innocent After Serving 28 Years For Murder
TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa County judge declared Tuesday morning, July 16 that a man convicted of murder nearly 30 years ago will walk free.
Judge Sharon Holmes called Corey Atchison's incarceration a "fundamental miscarriage of justice" moments before she told him he was a free man.
"Such a blessing, man," Atchison said. "It's like a miracle just happened."
Atchison was convicted of first-degree murder in 1991 for the shooting death of James Lane in August 1990.
Judge Holmes said that his conviction was based solely on eyewitness testimony which she called inherently unreliable. She said there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, and the judge said she believed some witness testimonies were coerced.
"In the beginning when I got convicted it was unbelievable to me," Atchison said. "It's the same thing right now; it's just the opposite."
Dozens of family members were outside the courtroom celebrating as Corey Atchison walked out, knowing he'd soon be out of prison.
The Rev. Mario Johnson said he was with Atchison on the night of Lane's murder, and he said his friend has been saying for years that he was innocent.
"He's not mad, not bitter, not angry and that's a stand up guy - still to this day who he was 28 years ago when he tried to save a life," Johnson said.
Prosecutor Jimmy Dunn said the state will appeal the judge's decision, and he said he still believes the jury made the right call 28 years ago.
"I simply believe that there were matters by the court that, in this stage of the proceedings being that it is a post-conviction proceeding, were outside the view of the district court," he said.
Then assistant district attorney, Tim Harris was the prosecutor in Atchison's original court and filed an affidavit Tuesday morning morning, after allegations that he coerced witnesses.
"I took an oath to uphold the law, OK?" the former Tulsa County district attorney said. "There is no case important enough to put on perjured testimony, to put out false evidence to get a conviction."
Present Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler released the following statement:
“The people who repeatedly elected Tim Harris as their District Attorney did so because he embodied integrity. I came to work for Mr. Harris in 2002 because of his honesty and integrity. I have never had an occasion to call that into question. Mr. Harris signed and submitted an affidavit in this case which categorically refuted the unsubstantiated allegations against him.
"Twelve men and women listened to all of the evidence in this case and they rendered their judgment that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, 25 years after the fact, comes a single spurious claim which runs completely counter to the stellar reputation Mr. Harris developed over his entire lifetime. Suffice it to say, the State of Oklahoma will be appealing the ruling of Judge Holmes.”