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Man who spent nearly 50 years in prison for murder he didn’t commit is exonerated by judge

A man who spent nearly 50 years in prison for murder has been exonerated by a judge, becoming the longest-serving inmate to be found innocent of a crime.

Glynn Simmons, 71, was released in July after prosecutors agreed that key evidence in his case had not been turned over to his lawyers.

Oklahoma County District Judge Amy Palumbo found him innocent Tuesday.

“This court finds, on the basis of clear and convincing evidence, that the offense for which Mr. Simmons was convicted, sentenced and imprisoned… was not committed by Mr. Simmons,” the judgment said.

Mr Simmons is now entitled to compensation of up to $175,000 (£138,000) from the State for the wrongful conviction.

The ruling also opens the door to a federal lawsuit against Oklahoma City and law enforcement involved in Mr. Simmons’ arrest and conviction, defense attorney Joe Norwood said Wednesday.

However, compensation is likely to be years away, Mr Norwood added.

Mr. Simmons is currently living on donations while undergoing treatment for cancer detected after his release from prison.

“Glynn has to live off GoFundMe, that’s literally how the man survives at the moment, paying his rent, buying food,” Mr Norwood said.

“Getting him compensation, and getting compensation is not sure, it’s in the future and he has to support himself now.”

Mr. Simmons served 48 years, one month and 18 days in prison after his conviction, making him the longest imprisoned American inmate to be exonerated, according to data maintained by the National Registry of Exonerations.

He later said he felt vindicated after his time in prison, which included an initial death sentence.

“It’s a lesson in resilience and tenacity,” Mr. Simmons said at a brief news conference after the decision. “Don’t let anyone tell you this (exoneration) can’t happen, because it really can.”

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Glynn Simmons reads the court order after being found innocent. Photo: AP

He had always maintained his innocence, saying he was in Louisiana when Carolyn Sue Rogers was killed in an Edmond liquor store in 1974.

Mr. Simmons and his co-defendant Don Roberts were both convicted of the murder in 1975 and initially sentenced to death.

Their sentences were reduced to life in prison in 1977 after U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding capital punishment.

Roberts was released on parole in 2008.

Ms. Palumbo ordered a new trial for Mr. Simmons in July after District Attorney Vicki Behenna said prosecutors failed to provide evidence, including a police report showing an eyewitness could have identify other suspects in the case.

Ms. Behenna said in September that there was no more physical evidence in the case against Mr. Simmons and announced that she would not retry him, although she opposed finding him actually innocent.

A spokesman for Ms. Behenna declined to immediately comment on Wednesday.

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