By Mareo Johnson
Eagle Guest Writer
It was kind of strange to see the headline Convicted Murderer Set Free in a previous The Oklahoma Eagle article, speaking of my friend and bro Corey Atchison. Almost just as strange as when I heard my friend and brother Corey Atchison get convicted of murder in 1991. Another awkward moment was when charges were dismissed against others and me and not Corey in a preliminary hearing previous to the trial of 1991. As Corey was sitting right next to me on my right side, I glanced over to him as he sat there with what I perceived was a look of disbelief. I sure couldn’t believe it, what I couldn’t believe was that the judge was somewhat believing the lies.
There was a concocted story that was being told, a story that dawned on me later that homicide detectives tried to get me to go a long with also. I was in disbelief at the moment that these guys was really lying, and what will later help cause the injustice on another’s life. I stuck to the truth of his innocence from day 1 almost 30 years ago to now, there were one friend and two strangers that mentioned that he had done it, which wasn’t true.
One of the guys out of the two that didn’t know us broke down in the preliminary hearing while on the stand and told the truth, the truth that Corey didn’t do it and that he didn’t know us. The other guy said he didn’t know us but still seen Corey kill James Lane, and charges was dismissed against us that same day. I was really glad to be getting out but I was disappointed that the same wasn’t happening for Corey. Knowing that he was innocent, I made a call to Corey’s mother to have his lawyer put me on the stand in Corey’s defense for his trial.
Months later after the preliminary hearing came the jury trial where I got on the stand in Corey’s defense. Almost 30 years ago on the stand I told the district attorney that they had the wrong man, which was and is the truth. As I looked over at Corey there was a proud smile on his face, a smile that I perceived as thank you, I’ll be going home today. That night in 1990 when James Lane was murdered we was leaving 5th and Atlanta, heard gunshots I was on the passenger’s side, Corey was driving and others were in the backseat. I began to duck, then Corey stops the car and he says look. When I raised up to look what I saw was a guy running (with later turned out to be a gun) shooting at three other guys running in the opposite direction and they were shooting at what turned out to be a guy by the name of James Lane.
Then James Lane drops to the ground and the three guys began standing over him eventually take off. Corey turns the car around and parked in some apartments to go back to try to help the man we just saw drop to the ground. When we approach the guy on the ground he was still breathing then shortly died. Corey was steadily trying to get help then we go and sit on the curb right across from where James Lane was laying. Eventually awhile-later police and paramedics, etc., finally showed up. We stayed there for quite some time, homicide detectives questioned us and said we’re free to go. As soon as we get back to the car and backing out police and homicide detectives hemmed us up. They searched the car and us as well and let us go.
This is the truth and I’ve been telling this story of his innocence everywhere I go and to so many people for almost 30 years. I’ve prayed as well as others for his freedom, that God will make a way and do what seems to be impossible.
As founder of Black Lives Matter Tulsa group in 2016 (a group/social justice organization that advocates for social and economic justice) we put on our www.blacklivesmattertulsa1.weebly.com website – Justice for Corey Atchison Big Cheese as one of our campaigns, we also shared it on a flyer in 2016. This is the truth and the story that I’ve been telling for 28 years and a situation that have been in my prayers as well. Prayers for everyone and Corey have been answered.
I thank God first and everyone that played a part or a role in his freedom. From investigator Eric Cullen, lawyer Joseph Norwood, Judge Sharon Homes, Eric Colbert, and those that testified in the recent procedures of his innocence. I told them from the beginning that he was innocent -homicide detectives, police, jury and D.A. and wasn’t going to say otherwise. During the recent procedures I was asking people from the community, as well as members of Black Lives Matter Tulsa to come and show support for Justice for Corey.
I’m thankful that a innocent man is now free. It’s so important as a society to lobby for the innocent, speak for the voiceless, and stand for the oppressed. To continue to voice and work towards social change, fair sentencing laws, criminal justice reform, among many other things to try to create a space for justice and equality for all.