Clerk’s Error Won’t Spare Man Life Sentence in Killing

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

A man serving life in prison for murder has lost after appealing his sentence because of a paperwork error by a clerk.

A New Jersey appeals court ruled Wednesday that Vernon Simmons can’t get out of jail because a clerk mistakenly recorded his sentence as 30 years, instead of life.

Simmons was convicted in 1985 for killing Herman Bracey after a drug deal gone bad. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 30 years.

After two charges were merged into one during an appeal, a clerk listed his sentence as 30 years.

The judges said in Wednesday’s ruling that the original life sentence stands because the state Supreme Court has ruled that sentencing mistakes can be corrected.

Simmons will be eligible for parole in 2021.