Tulsa Man's Conviction Overturned After 16 Years

Thursday, July 19th 2012, 8:12 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Sedrick Courtney's family was there for what was almost the end of a battle to clear his name.

Courtney Blue, his sister, said, "People didn't believe it. For 16 years, they would tell his son, ‘Well he's in prison, he must have done it.' But we stood by him."

Sedrick went to prison after a conviction for a robbery and beating.

The case was based, in part, on matching hairs found at the scene, before DNA testing was widespread.

"This is yet again, another wrongful conviction based on microscopic hair comparison," said attorney, Barry Scheck.

A couple of men, freed from prison by modern DNA testing, came to see another man set free.

"Sixteen years of his life and the man is not guilty," said Tim Durham. "And that's just a feeling that nobody knows, but those who have been wrongly tried, convicted and incarcerated. No one really knows that feeling."

And fewer still know the feeling of serving a full sentence, and then having the conviction overturned.

Courtney was paroled last year.

Courtney said he was frustrated by the conviction and what he was missing behind bars.

"When I left, I had babies, and when I got home my babies had babies, so I missed a lot," Courtney said.

Tulsa District Attorney Tim Harris said an overturned conviction is not a declaration of innocence.

"We do not contend that this proves his innocence," Harris said.

But Harris said, regardless, the charges against Courtney will be dropped.

The difference between innocent and accused, but not convicted, could be the difference between some or no compensation for his time behind bars.

Courtney's attorney said the state could pay a maximum of $175,000.