- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tulsa could pay more than $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a man who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 16 years, city officials estimate.

Sedrick Courtney filed suit against the city last year, alleging that authorities used bogus evidence to convict him of robbery and burglary and then blocked his efforts to prove his innocence while he was in prison and on parole.

City officials are scheduled to meet Tuesday with federal Magistrate Judge T. Lane Wilson to discuss the case, the Tulsa World reported (https://bit.ly/1LeRwj5 ).

Courtney, 42, was convicted of robbing a woman at her Tulsa apartment in February 1996 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Courtney, who denied involvement in the crime and had alibi witnesses, claims in his lawsuit that trial evidence was planted by city employees.

The evidence included ski masks and a bloody piece of duct tape. Tulsa police said investigators found hair on the masks in 2011. DNA testing ruled Courtney, who was paroled in 2011, out as being one of the woman’s assailants. He has since received the maximum $175,000 from the state of Oklahoma after filing a tort claim for wrongful imprisonment.

Courtney’s federal suit doesn’t specify how much he’s seeking, but Jerry Bender, the city’s litigation division manager, said it’s more than $1 million.

A 2010 change in the city’s charter requires all settlements for more than $1 million to be approved by the mayor and a majority vote of city councilors.

“This is the first time we’ve actually had to play by that rule,” Bender said. “We’ve had cases before where there have been demands in excess of $1 million, but those were always withdrawn prior to the time we got in the settlement conference.”

In 2006, Tulsa paid $12.2 million to Arvin McGee after he was wrongfully convicted of the 1987 rape and kidnapping of a Tulsa woman. He was released in 2002 after DNA evidence proved his innocence, and tests showed the DNA was from a man who was already in prison for sex crimes.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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