avontae Sanford was 14 years old when he confessed to murdering four people in a drug house on Detroit’s East Side. Left alone with detectives in a late-night interrogation, Sanford says he broke down after being told he could go home if he gave them “something.” On the advice of a lawyer whose license was later suspended for misconduct, Sanford pleaded guilty in the middle of his March 2008 trial and received a sentence of 39 to 92 years in prison.
On the night of the killing, witnesses said they could see more than a silhouette. They identified Benjamine Spencer and another man running away from the scene. Their testimony helped send them to prison.
The Oklahoma Innocence Project’s caseload is growing after the non-profit scored a legal victory last year that exonerated two former inmates.
In May 2016, Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter left prison for the first time in 16 years after the Oklahoma Innocence Project cleared the two men. Both were wrongfully convicted in the 1994 murder of Karen Summers and sentenced to life plus 170 years.
On May 9, 2016, after spending 22 years in prison for being accused and convicted of killing a 19-year-old woman, Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter were exonerated for a crime that they did not commit. Scott and Carpenter wrote and requested help for 22 years, until finally someone heard their plea. Years after standing by their innocence, the Oklahoma chapter of the Innocence Project took up their cause.
De’Marchoe Carpenter was running out of time.
He’d lost an appeal, Oklahoma’s governor twice denied him parole, and his post-conviction lawyers had just informed him that a key witness died of kidney failure. They were forced to mothball his case. But here Carpenter was, waiting among a flock of prisoners in a penitentiary gymnasium with a heart full of hope.
For most of us, an incredible number of life events took place between 1994 and 2016. Marriages, babies, vacations, job changes.
For De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott, those 22 years included days that mostly looked the same — exercising, watching TV, writing letters, praying — all while incarcerated for a crime neither man committed.
They spent more than 20 years in prison for crime they didn’t commit. Two men are free, but the journey isn’t over.
Malcolm Scott and De’Marchoe Carpenter were wrongfully convicted of murder when they were just 18.
Malcolm Scott has changed a lot in his life after spending nearly two decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
"I wasn't given this second chance just to get out here and be nothing. You know? God gave me this chance for a reason, and I know this is just the beginning," Scott said.
Strapped to a gurney in Oklahoma's execution chamber, with a fatal cocktail of drugs about to flow into his veins, Michael Lee Wilson declared: 'Malcom Scott and De'marchoe Carpenter are innocent.'
After 13 years in prison for first-degree murder, a Baltimore man walked free Tuesday afternoon as the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office joined his defense team in asking for his exoneration.