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De'Marchoe Carpenter

Other Oklahoma Exonerations with Official Misconduct'Marchoe_Carpenter.jpg
On September 10, 1994, members of the “Crips” street gang were holding a house party on East 29th Street North in Tulsa, Oklahoma when a maroon-colored car drove past and several shots were fired from the back seat. Nineteen-year-old Karen Summers was fatally shot in the back. Two 16-year-olds, Alonzo Johnson and Kenneth Price, were wounded.

Police recovered shell casings from a .380-caliber weapon in the street.

The following day, police went to the home of Michael Wilson, a member of the rival “Bloods” street gang. A maroon-colored Ford Taurus was parked in the driveway and records showed Wilson rented it on September 7, 1994. Police caught Wilson trying to hide a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol under his shirt. Wilson was arrested after he said he was the only person to have driven the car and that he did not loan the gun to anyone else.

Police also arrested 17-year-old De’Marchoe Carpenter and 17-year-old Malcolm Scott, both of whom were members of the Bloods gang. Police suspected Scott in another unsolved murder committed before the murder of Summers.

On September 13, ballistics testing linked a bullet recovered from Summers’s body to the gun confiscated from Wilson.

Police told Wilson that they believed Scott and Carpenter were responsible for the shooting. Wilson then said that he gave Scott and Carpenter ammunition, and later, at their request, held the gun used in the shooting.

Carpenter and Scott were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and use of a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon.

Wilson was charged with being an accessory to the crime. He pled guilty in March 1995 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Carpenter and Scott went to trial in Tulsa County District Court in the fall of 1995. One of the victims, Kenneth Price, and a witness, Rashun Williams, identified Carpenter and Scott as being in the car at the time shots were fired. Wilson testified that he was not in the car, but gave them bullets prior to the shooting and later hid the gun for them.

On November 9, 1995, the jury convicted Scott and Carpenter of all charges. They were sentenced to life in prison plus 170 years.

Their convictions were upheld on appeal in 1997.

By that time, Wilson had been sentenced to death for the fatal beating of a store clerk in Tulsa. Two other men, Billy Alverson and Richard Harjo, were also convicted of that murder. Alverson was sentenced to death while Harjo was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2014, Carpenter and Scott filed a petition seeking a new trial, citing recantations by the state’s key witnesses. Williams and Price, who had testified that they saw the defendants in the maroon Taurus, had recanted in 2010. They said that police threatened to convict them on other charges and forced them to falsely identify Scott and Carpenter.

Wilson had also recanted. While in jail in Tulsa County in 1995, both before and after the trial, Wilson admitted to another inmate that Carpenter and Scott were not involved in the shooting.

Eric Cullen, a private investigator for Carpenter and Scott, interviewed Wilson in July 2007. In that interview, Wilson said that he knew who committed the crime and that Scott and Carpenter were not involved.

In January 2014, two days before he was executed for the beating of the store clerk, Wilson gave a video-recorded interview to the Oklahoma Innocence Project. Wilson said he was in the car with Alverson and Harjo. He said that Alverson drove and Harjo was in the front seat, while he himself fired the shots from the back seat that killed Summers and wounded Johnson and Price.

Wilson said the shooting was in retaliation for an earlier incident in which members of the Crips street gang had shot him in the leg a few days earlier.

The petition for a new trial also cited a letter written by Alverson in 2010, admitting that he drove the rented car from which the shots were fired. Alverson was executed on January 6, 2011, for his role in for the store clerk murder.

Harjo testified at a hearing on the petition for a new trial that he was in the car with Alverson and Wilson and that Wilson fired the shots.

In May 2016, Tulsa County District Court Judge Sharon Holmes granted the petition, vacated Scott’s and Carpenter’s convictions, and declared them factually innocent.

Judge Holmes found “clear and convincing evidence” that Scott and Carpenter were not involved. She ruled that “[e]ach witness who inculpated [Scott and Carpenter] at trial has recanted their testimony; Michael Wilson’s confession is corroborated by two eyewitnesses who were actually in the vehicle with Wilson when Karen Summers was killed; Wilson was found in possession of the murder weapon [and] the car that was used to facilitate the shooting; he actually rented the vehicle used in the shooting; and there is absolutely no physical evidence” linking Scott and Carpenter to the crime.

On May 9, 2016, Scott and Carpenter were released on bond.

The prosecution appealed. On November 10, 2016, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Judge Holmes’s ruling, stating that “[t]he State’s case at trial was weak and the evidence and circumstances that have been developed and presented to the trial court…do nothing to strengthen the State’s position.”

In 1991, three years before Carpenter was convicted, his older brother, Corey Atchison, was convicted of murder. Atchison was found guilty of the 1990 murder of 29-year-old James Lane in Tulsa. Atchison was sentenced to life in prison.

In July 2017, Scott and Carpenter filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Tulsa and two former detectives. During the litigation of the lawsuit, their attorneys discovered a report written by Detective Ken Makinson not long after Lane was shot. In the report, Makinson said that a woman who identified herself as “Lisa,” reported that the gunman was Wayne Jones and that he was accompanied by Reginald Patterson. That report had never been disclosed to Atchison’s defense attorney prior to his trial.

In July 2017, Atchison’s attorney Joseph Norwood filed a post-conviction petition on behalf of Atchison seeking to vacate his conviction. The petition cited the failure of the prosecution to disclose the report written by Makinson that quoted the caller named “Lisa” as identifying the gunman as Wayne Jones.

On July 16, 2019, Judge Holmes vacated Atchison’s conviction, ruling that his case was marred by a “fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Atchison was released that day and was joined by Carpenter. Judge Holmes dismissed the case against Atchison in May 2021.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/28/2016
Last Updated: 9/8/2021
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Attempted Murder, Other Violent Felony
Reported Crime Date:1994
Age at the date of reported crime:17
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No