The first year of freedom


Curtis McCarty spent 21 years in Oklahoma prison – most of it on death row – for a murder that DNA proves he didn’t commit. After years of appeals and legal battles, he was finally exonerated and released on May 11, 2007 due to DNA evidence proving that another man committed the murder.

McCarty is one of three exonerees who were wrongfully convicted based on fraudulent forensic testimony from notorious Oklahoma lab analyst Joyce Gilchrist. In McCarty’s case, Gilchrist originally found that hairs from the crime scene did not match McCarty’s hair. Then, after three years of fruitless police investigation, Gilchrist changed her notes and said the hairs could have been his. She then went further to testify at McCarty’s first trial that he “was in fact” at the crime scene.

His death sentence was overturned twice during the decades to come, but both times he was tried against and sentenced again to death. In 2005, with the Innocence Project working on his case with McCarty’s local attorneys, his conviction was tossed out yet again. After two more years in legal limbo, the indictment was dismissed and McCarty was finally exonerated.

Read more about McCarty’s case here


Read about the other two exonerees convicted based on Gilchrist’s false testimony:

Jeffrey Pierce


Robert Miller


Other exoneration anniversaries this week:


Josiah Sutton

, Texas (Served 4.5 years, Exonerated 5/14/04)


Douglas Warney

, New York (Served 9 Years, Exonerated 5/16/06)


Ulysses Rodriguez Charles

, Massachusetts (Served 17 years, Exonerated 5/17/01)

Ronald Jones

, Illinois (Served 10 years, Exonerated 5/18/99)

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