Wednesday, June 11, 2014

OK: Former inmate sues Tulsa over wrongful conviction

An Oklahoma man whose robbery conviction was vacated after he served 16 years in prison has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Tulsa, claiming that officials used fabricated evidence that led to his conviction.

Sedrick Courtney argued in his lawsuit filed Monday that city officials used manufactured evidence to convict him of robbery and burglary — then obstructed his efforts at exoneration. Courtney was released from prison on parole in 2011 and his conviction was later vacated.

"Sedrick is looking forward to proving that his wrongful conviction was not an unfortunate accident but was caused by police misconduct," said Emma Freudenberger, a New York City-based attorney who is representing Courtney.

Courtney had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for a 1996 robbery at a Tulsa apartment, where two masked intruders robbed a woman. At trial, prosecutors showed forensic tests that they said linked Courtney to hairs recovered from a ski mask believed to have been used in the crime. In 2011, subsequent DNA testing excluded Courtney as a possible source of the hairs, court filings said.

In September 2012, after Courtney was released on parole, Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough cleared Courtney of criminal wrongdoing and found that he shown his "actual innocence" in the case.

The suit does not seek a specific amount of money in damages. Courtney has already received $175,000 from the state — the maximum allowed under state law for a wrongful imprisonment tort claim.

Original report here




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