Case Dismissed for Oklahoman Who Spent 16 Years in Prison

A man who spent 16 years in prison before being released on parole in 2011 had his case dismissed last week.  District Judge William Kellough determined that with DNA evidence available today, no jury would be able to find Sedrick Courtney guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Though the dismissal brings some measure of relief, Courtney's Oklahoma appeals lawyer will continue to seek a finding of actual innocence in the case.  According to a document filed earlier this month, his attorneys wrote that such a finding "is a necessary predicate under Oklahoma law for Mr. Courtney to recover damages suffered as a result of his wrongful conviction."  Courtney said that he is waiting patiently to clear his name. In 1995, Sedrick Courtney was accused of armed robbery and first degree burglary in a home invasion.  Though Courtney had alibi witnesses and denied being involved in the robbery and assault of Shemita Greer, he was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive 30-year prison terms.  Courtney's conviction came in part from the victim's testimony that he was one of the invaders.  However, his attorneys say that Greer's identification was inaccurate, and that new DNA evidence demonstrates that she was wrong. DNA testing of hair samples taken from the ski masks worn by the intruders was inconclusive at the time of Courtney's 1996 trial; however, testing recently conducted by the Innocence Project excludes Courtney as the source of any of those hairs. District Judge Kellough said that the new evidence would prevent a conviction.  However, the District Attorney's Office says that Greer is adamant that her identification is correct, and the Office requested that Kellough deny the motion for a finding of actual innocence. Paroled in 2011, Courtney finally found post-conviction relief when his convictions for armed robbery and first degree burglary were vacated in July.  Now, the case against him has been dismissed.   Though he is still awaiting a finding of actual innocence, Courtney's story shows that a criminal conviction does not have to be the end of the story.  The appeals process and post-conviction relief efforts are available to t

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