Nearly two months after Michelle Murphy was exonerated in Oklahoma of the murder of her infant son based on new DNA evidence, her church congregation welcomed her home with a celebration of her freedom Sunday.
reported that as the choir sang “Amazing Grace,” Murphy wept as she was surrounded by the All Souls Unitarian Church congregation.
“It’s grace that got me through this,” Murphy said after the ceremony, nervously facing a crowd of television cameras.
The emotional ceremony celebrated Murphy’s new life after serving 20 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, 38, Murphy is just starting her adult life. In the past few weeks, she has obtained her driver’s license and enrolled in computer classes.
During a videotaped message to the church, Innocence Project co-Director Barry Scheck said Murphy “suffered immeasurably” during her trial and incarceration.
“Thank you for your story, your presence, your life. We know that tomorrow it could be any one of us,” Scheck said.
Other speakers at Sunday’s celebration reminded congregants about the frequency of wrongful convictions and that what happened to Murphy can happen to anyone.
“DNA technology has now exonerated so many people,” said Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister at All Souls. “Cases like Michelle’s are not anomalies or even rare events.”
Lavanhar said Murphy “was robbed of her life by our society and some of the most respected people in our society — by judges, and police detectives and a jury of her peers.”