Malcolm Scott and Corey Atchison are brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who have been fighting for years to overturn their wrongful convictions for separate murders. Ahead of the NBC News Dateline special episode titled “The Long Road to Freedom,” here’s what you need to know about where the brothers are today.
Both Men Have Been Freed From Prison
In 2016, Malcolm Scott was freed after serving 20 years of a life sentence for a 1994 drive-by shooting that killed 19-year-old Karen Summers. Then in 2019, his brother Corey Atchison was released from prison after serving 28 years on a wrongful murder conviction from the 1990 shooting death of James Lane.
When Scott was freed, he thanked the Innocence Project for everything they did to give him his life back and praised private investigator Eric Cullen for taking the case for free.
It’s been 10 years of very hard work and something I honestly probably thought would’ve never had a shot,” Cullen told Tulsa World.
Then when his brother was released from prison, Scott told Tulsa World, “It’s that love, that faith, that strength, that support that got us here and that got him here back home with us.”
Now Scott works as a personal trainer in the Houston area, telling Tulsa World that he hopes Atchison can join him there to open a health-oriented restaurant near the fitness studio where Scott works. Atchison used cooking as an outlet to keep his spirits up while he was in prison.
“You fall and you gotta get back up before long because if you dwell on it, it’s gonna turn you down. You just move on and keep going. It’s the only way you’re gonna make it. I can’t hold no grudge. Life’s too short,” Atchison told reporters upon his release.
Scott Was Freed After the Real Guilty Parties Were Found
Scott was found guilty of first-degree murder and related charges along with his friend De’Marchoe Carpenter, both of whom were 18 at the time.
But new evidence came to light with the help of Cullen, a Tulsa private investigator, and the Oklahoma Innocence Project that exonerated Scott and Carpenter. The new evidence was that three men gave sworn statements that they were the actual perpetrators of the drive-by, plus eyewitnesses signed affidavits recanting their testimony, according to Tulsa World.
One of the sworn statements was from Michael Wilson, a man who initially faced a murder charge alongside Scott and Carpenter but pleaded his charge down to accessory in exchange for testifying against the other two men. However, in January 2015, Wilson gave a video interview with the Oklahoma Innocence Project where he confessed to firing the fatal shots and that Scott and Carpenter were not involved in the shooting. Wilson was executed two days later for a separate murder that happened in 1995, but in his last words before his execution, he again said that Scott and Carpenter were innocent.
The other two men who admitted to being part of the drive-by shooting were Billy Don Alverson and Richard Harjo. Alverson was executed in 2011 for the same 1995 murder as Wilson, while Harjo is serving life in prison for said separate crime because he was 16 at the time it was committed.
Atchison Was Freed Because the Main Witness Recanted His Testimony
After Scott’s release, Atchison’s attorney, Joe Norwood, began working with the same private investigator who worked on Scott’s case. In 2017, the star witness in Atchison’s trial, Doane Thomas, signed an affidavit stating he was pressured to identify Atchison as the suspect. Another witness named Benjamin King had testified to the same thing in 1991.
District Judge Sharon Holmes determined that gave the court “reason to wonder what really happened” and, after hearing from other witnesses whose description of the perpetrator did not match Atchison, Holmes vacated the conviction.
Dateline airs Fridays and Saturdays on NBC.