A former Oklahoma death row inmate whose conviction was later overturned has accepted a settlement in a $32 million lawsuit against the state and a former prosecutor.
Yancy L. Douglas and another man, Paris Lapriest Powell, were convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl in 1993. According to prosecutors, the two men were gang members attempting the drive-by shooting of a rival gang member when they shot and killed the girl.
A witness in the case first identified Douglas and Powell as the shooters, but later recanted, saying he was "too drunk and high" at the time to accurately identify anyone. The eyewitness, Derrick Smith, was believed to be the intended target of the drive-by shooting. He was shot in the hip during the incident.
In 2009, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their convictions, citing "reprehensible" misconduct of the prosecutor, Brad Miller. The appeals court found that Miller knowingly allowed the use of false testimony from the only eyewitness. Because of the conflicting testimony of the eyewitness in the case, prosecutors decided not to re-try the men.
In 2013, the Oklahoma Supreme Court suspended Miller, who was an Assistant District Attorney in Oklahoma City at the time of the trials, from practicing law for 180 days. Miller, now a practicing civil attorney, has denied any wrongdoing in the case. He claims that the eyewitness changed his testimony because of intimidation in prison, and that because of that intimidation, he falsely accused the prosecutor.
However, just before Douglas's civil case against the state and Miller went to trial, Douglas accepted a settlement offer. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
Douglas claims he spent 16 years behind bars--13 of those years on death row--for a crime he did not commit. However, he is again in prison--this time serving a 10-year sentence for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was convicted in 2012 after an officer pulled him over for speeding. Douglas drove off, striking the officer with a passenger door as the policeman reached into the vehicle for a gun.
Powell's lawsuit is scheduled for jury trial in September.