The Oklahoman

Appeals court reverses double-murder conviction


An Oklahoma appeals court on Thursday reversed the double-murder conviction of a Spencer man and remanded the case for a new trial.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals issued its 3-2 ruling in the case of Jamar Mordecai Simms, 27, who was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to two consecutiv­e life sentences for the 2016 shooting deaths of Kendre Smith, 25, and Chameeka Harris, 26.

Prosecutor­s allege that the two were shot during a drug deal involving Simms and another man, and Simms was convicted of felony murder during the underlying crime of drug dealing. The state’s felony murder charge applies when someone dies during the course of the commission of certain felony crimes.

But the appeals court said the evidence suggests Simms was buying, not distributi­ng, drugs and was insufficient to support his felony murder conviction.

“As purely a buyer, Simms argues he cannot be held liable as a principal to the underlying felony of drug distributi­on,” the court wrote.

Simms’ attorney, Andrea Miller, said she was pleased with the ruling.

The court determined that Simms could be retried under the state’s alternativ­e theory that the killings happened during a separate underlying crime of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he plans to retry Simms for the killings.

“As we move forward, the state will proceed consistent with the court’s interpreta­tion of the statutes,” Prater said in a statement.

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