Teen Witnesses Coerced into Confessions by Police
On June 11th, a judge will decide whether to free a man who has served nearly three decades in prison for murder. Corey Atchison was convicted in 1991 of killing James Warren Lane and sentenced to life in prison. He has always proclaimed his innocence.
Atchison and his attorney, Joseph Norwood, asked District Judge Sharon Holmes to vacate the guilty verdict against Atchison and find him “actually innocent” of the crime. Atchison was convicted of murder in 1991 on the testimony of a single witness who was 17 at the time. In the case against Atchison, two other teenagers testified that the police coerced them to say Atchison was the murderer. Now, the lone witness that did testify *against* Atchison at trial has come forward and testified recently that he too was coerced by the police.
Additionally, there were multiple eyewitnesses to the Lane murder who claimed someone other than Atchison was the killer. These witnesses were not adequately disclosed to Atchison or his lawyer back in 1991.
As the case against Atchison currently stands there are five witnesses to the murder that claim Atchison is innocent, not including Atchison himself. There are also two other eye witnesses that were not adequately disclosed in 1991 who identified someone other than Atchison as the killer.
Police Coerced Confessions in Another Closely Related Murder Case
Three years after Atchison was wrongfully convicted of Lane’s murder, Atchison’s younger brother, Malcolm Scott, and a co-defendant, Demarchoe Carpenter, were convicted of murder. The two men were set free in 2016 after their convictions were vacated in large part because the witnesses against them came forward and said police had coerced them into testifying falsely.
One of the detectives who is accused of coercing witnesses in Scott and Carpenter’s case is the same detective who is found to have coerced witnesses in Atchison’s case.
Prosecutor Involved in Misconduct in Atchison Case and Another Case
The prosecutor in Atchison’s case was former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris. Two of the witnesses in Atchison’s case accused Harris of pressuring them to testify falsely against Atchison.
Harris was also the prosecutor in Michelle Murphy’s wrongful conviction case. There, Harris is accused of hiding blood evidence that would have exonerated Murphy, but instead she spent 20 years in prison for murdering her daughter. Murphy’s conviction was vacated in 2014 and she was found to be “actually innocent” due to the blood evidence withheld by Harris.
For more information about these cases and Oklahoma criminal justice reform, click on the links to the articles below: