OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma County has the fourth highest number of death penalty exonerations in the country.
The state’s largest county by population may be moving up on that notorious list, if one more inmate is exonerated.
Oklahoma County currently has a list of 10 inmates who have been exonerated from a wrongful death sentence.
Glynn Simmons may be number 11.
News 4 has been covering Simmons’ case for twenty years; a wrongful conviction case from 1975.
Glynn Simmons was sentenced to death in 1975 for the Edmond Liquor Store murder in a jury trial a judge found to be unfair.
Simmons’ electrocution death sentence was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s.
His life was spared, but Simmons spent 48 years behind bars in prison serving a life sentence.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma County District Attorney, Vicki Behenna asked a judge to throw out Simmons’ guilty verdict.
In July, Judge Amy Palumbo found Simmons’ 1975 conviction was improper. She tossed out the conviction and life sentence and set Simmmons free on bond.
Right now, Glynn Simmons is out on bond, but his legal battle continues.
He is waiting to hear if D.A. Behennna will pursue a new trial on that 50-year-old murder charge.
“The system is badly broken and needs to be looked at very carefully, and there is simpy no excuse for what has happened,” said Death Penalty Policy Project Executive Director, Rob Dunham.
Over the weekend, a nationwide group of anti-death penalty advocates joined the fight to exonerate Glynn Simmons.
“My faith teaches me that we are to remember folks who are in prison as if we were incarcerated with them. And it also teaches me that we are to bear each others burdens,” said Christian death penalty abolitionist, Shane Claiborne. “We’ve got to look at a system that would allow someone to spend decades of their life in prison when prosecutors knew they were doing wrong.”
Simmons’ attorney is preparing for a status hearing in Oklahoma County District Court next month and potentially a murder trial in October.
“We’ve got a very good judge. We’ve got a fair prosecutor. They know what they’re doing. They’ve made the right decisions, finally. We put them on the doorstep of a hearing with a lot of evidence,” said attorney Joe Norwood. “We’ve got people who will listen, but that doesn’t mean it’s in the bag. You’ve got to keep pressing.”
Death Penalty Action Executive Director, Abraham Bonowitz is trying to raise awareness and funding to help Glynn Simmons resume his life.
“After nearly five decades of wrongful incarceration, including several years facing execution, this man has nothing,” said Bonowitz “So we’re inviting the public to help give him a running start while he waits for his formal exoneration and whatever compensation might eventually come from the state.”
If exonerated, Glynn Simmons will be the 11th innocent death row inmate to survive the Oklahoma death chamber, which means Oklahoma County will rank second in the nation for most death row inmates exonerated.