A Maryland board approved settlements of nearly $2 million each Wednesday for two men who were wrongly imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.
The three-member Board of Public Works approved the settlements to be paid over seven years.
Board records show Eric Simmons and Kenneth McPherson were wrongly confined after a Baltimore City Circuit Court erroneously convicted them of first-degree murder in 1995. They each spent nearly 24 years in prison up until May of last year.
Simmons and McPherson, who are brothers, were accused of the 1994 killing of Anthony Wooden. The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project says they were convicted on testimony from two eyewitnesses: A woman whose rent was paid by police and a boy, then 13, who was threatened with homicide charges until he named the suspects.
“We owe these gentlemen not only a financial payment, which we are making, but our sincere apologies and resolutions to oversee changes in the system which will prevent this from happening in the future," said Treasurer Nancy Kopp, one of the board members who approved the settlement with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Comptroller Peter Franchot.
The amount of the compensation was derived using a five-year estimate of the Maryland median household income in 2018 dollars, adding up to about $81,868 for each year of confinement.
The board also approved final payment schedules for three other men who were imprisoned wrongfully after erroneous convictions. In March, the board approved paying a total of $8.7 million to the men, who served more than 35 years each for a murder they did not commit. Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart and Ransom Watkins will receive about $2.9 million each. They were exonerated last year in the 1983 slaying of a Baltimore junior high school student.
Last year, the board approved about $9 million in compensation for other five men who were wrongly imprisoned for a combined 120 years. Their cases were not connected. It was the first time in 15 years the board exercised its authority under the law to compensate the wrongly convicted.