Tonight’s episode of Dateline NBC features the story of two brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma who have been fighting for their freedom for more than 20 years.
Malcolm Scott and Corey Atchison were both wrongfully convicted for separate murders, and they will be discussing their struggles within the justice system and their pact to help one another get out of prison in their first appearance on national television.
The episode will also feature interviews with lawyers and investigators who worked on the cases and former Tulsa District Attorney Tim Harris defends his prosecution of Atchison during the episode.
The one-hour special begins at 10 p.m. and is called the Long Road to Freedom. The episode is part of NBC News’ series “Inequality in America.”
Corey Atchison Was Sentenced to Life Without Parole
In 2019, Corey Atchison walked free 28 years after he was convicted of shooting James Lane during a 1990 robbery.
Atchison had been convicted in 1991 when he was 20 years old. The victim had been shot in the chest with a pistol.
According to The Washington Post, Atchison was in the area with friends at the time of the shooting. He was arrested six months later, but he maintained his innocence during the trial. The conviction was upheld in 1994 by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The jury returned a guilty verdict, and Atchison received a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
The brothers revealed that they had made a pact with one another during their time in prison. Whoever got out first would help get the other one out of prison.
Private investigator Eric Cullen uncovered wrongdoing by investigators that led to the incarceration of both of the brothers.
“Times when you get denied in court you feel low,” Atchison says in the Dateline special after being asked if there was ever a point where he thought he was going to die in prison. “You just wanna say ‘give’ sometimes.”
His lowest point, he said, was when he wanted to be out of prison with his daughter who was born two months after he started his life sentence. He was later asked to give up custody of the daughter because he was in prison.
Malcolm Scott’s Sentence Was Overturned in 2016
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) June 19, 2020
In a case unrelated to his older brother’s, Malcolm Scott was convicted of murder. His sentence was overturned in 2016 by the same judge, though, and he walked free years before his brother did.
Scott was accused and later convicted of a drive-by shooting that killed Karen Summers in 1994. She was 19 years old. A man who testified against Scott during the trial later admitted his own guilt, and according to Tulsa World, the admission came just two days before he was to be executed for another murder.
On November 9, 1995, Scott was convicted on all charges and was sentenced to life in prison plus 170 years. The conviction were upheld on appeal in 1997, but a new trial was granted in 2014.
In May 2016, Tulsa County District Court Judge Sharon Holmes granted the petition, vacating Scott’s conviction and declaring it factually inaccurate.
Judge Holmes reportedly found “clear and convincing evidence” that Scott was not involved in the shooting and the witnesses at the trials had recanted their testimonies.
In July 2017, Scott filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Tulsa and two former detectives.