23 September 2023 :
SEPTEMBER 19, 2023 - Glynn Simmons Exonerated 48 Years After He Was Sentenced to Death in Oklahoma
Glynn Simmons, who was convicted and sentenced to death in Oklahoma in 1975, has been exonerated after Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna dropped charges against him. Mr. Simmons told The Black Wall Street Times, “I’m happy, and I’m free. It’s a long, long struggle. … We need to reimagine justice and how we do it.” DA Behenna said of the case, “One of the things that I stand by very strongly is a defendant’s right to a fair trial, where he has all the evidence to defend himself. That didn’t happen here.”
Simmons and co-defendant Don Roberts were both convicted of the murder of Carolyn Sue Rogers and wounding of another woman at a liquor store in 1974, and initially sentenced to death. Their sentences were reduced to life in prison in 1977 after U.S. Supreme Court rulings related to capital punishment. Roberts was released on parole in 2008.
Prosecutors said the surviving victim identified Mr. Simmons out of a line up, but never told the jury or defense team that she had also identified other people in the line up.
In July 2023, at the request of DA Behenna, Judge Amy Palumbo vacated Mr. Simmons’ conviction and ordered a new trial. Mr. Simmons was released on bond. On September 11, 2023, DA Behenna announced she was requesting dismissal of the case against Mr. Simmons. In a press release, she said, “the District Attorney determined the state will not be able to meet its burden at trial and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Simmons was responsible for Ms. Rogers’ murder.” She explained that there was no longer any physical evidence in the case, witnesses and detectives were deceased or unavailable, and “The defense alleges that their alternate suspect was identified in one of the lineups.” On September 19, 2023, Judge Palumbo granted DA Behenna’s request, dismissing the charges against Mr. Simmons.
Mr. Simmons is the 195th person exonerated after being sentenced to death since 1973, and the 11th in Oklahoma. 6 of Oklahoma’s exonerations originated in Oklahoma County. It is tied with Cuyahoga County, Ohio and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania for the 2nd-most death row exonerations of any county in the U.S., behind Cook County, Illinois. All 4 of those counties have patterns of systemic misconduct by police and/or prosecutors. He is the 3rd person exonerated in 2023.