By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Brothers Eric Simmons and Kenneth “JR” McPherson have been awarded nearly $2 million each by the state of Maryland after being found to have been wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years, according to multiple reports.
The Maryland Board of Public Works reportedly voted unanimously Wednesday to pay the brothers $1.9 million each in a series of installments that will run through July 2025.
Simmons told The Washington Post newspaper that while he is grateful for the compensation, it is no substitute for the time he spent behind bars.
“My mother died in ’09, and I can’t get that back,” Simmons said. “Money can’t fix the time I got jumped on and [guards] would beat me and put me in the hole. Money can’t fix that.”
Both he and McPherson were released in May 2019 after being convicted in 1995 of conspiracy to murder Anthony Wooden in East Baltimore and sentenced then to life in prison.
Wooden was shot in the head with a .44-caliber gun, according to the Innocence Project non-profit, which worked to free the brothers.
Both men had alibis for the time during the shooting, but the Innocence Project says police "moved" a local woman to give testimony against the men in exchange for paying off her rent. The paid informant allegedly previously accepted a similar offer for a shooting in West Baltimore.
Police also coerced a 13-year-old boy into naming Simmons and McPherson for the crime. The boy recanted his statement both before and at trial, according to the Innocence Project.