Glynn Simmons, a 71-year-old Black man, has been declared innocent in the state of Oklahoma after spending nearly 50 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
According to The National Registry of Exonerations, Simmons served more time behind bars before being exonerated than any other inmate in U.S. history.
Simmons, along with another man, Don Roberts, was sentenced to death in 1975 for the murder of a 30-year-old liquor store clerk during a robbery in Edmond, Oklahoma, in the previous year. Their sentences were later commuted to life in prison.
The convictions were based solely on the testimony of a teenage customer who survived being shot in the head during the robbery.
She identified Simmons and Roberts in a police lineup, but subsequent investigations raised significant doubts about the reliability of her identifications.
Both men claimed during the trial that they were not in Oklahoma at the time of the murder.
In a landmark decision, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Palumbo threw out Simmons’ conviction in July and officially declared him innocent at a recent hearing in Oklahoma County District Court.
Simmons, who was released in July after serving a total of 48 years, one month, and 18 days in prison, expressed his relief, stating, “This is a day we’ve been waiting on for a long, long time. We can say justice was done today, finally.”
Simmons’ co-defendant, Don Roberts, was released from prison in 2008. With his newfound innocence, Simmons may be eligible for compensation, though he acknowledges that the past cannot be undone.
“What’s been done can’t be undone, but there could be accountability. That’s what I’m about right now. Accountability,” he remarked.