(Tulsa, OK – September 12, 2014) With the consent of Tulsa District Attorney Tim Harris, a Tulsa court today exonerated Michelle Murphy of the murder of her infant son based on new DNA evidence and other previously undisclosed evidence pointing to her innocence. Recent DNA testing of crime scene evidence points to an unknown male as the real perpetrator. In the course of representing Murphy, lawyers also uncovered other evidence pointing to Murphy’s innocence that was known to the prosecution at the time of trial but never disclosed to the defense.
“This day has been a long time coming for Michelle,” said Sharisse O’Carroll, who represented Murphy along with her law partner Richard O’Carroll. “Not only did she suffer the tragedy of losing her beloved child but also the injustice of being wrongly incarcerated for 20 years for his murder that she did not commit.”
Exactly 20 years ago today, Murphy’s 15-week-old son was brutally stabbed to death on September 12, 1994. Murphy, just 17 at the time, was in her apartment with her new son and other child on the night of the murder. Murphy later woke up and discovered her child’s body in the kitchen. She immediately went to a neighbor and called the police.
Murphy was convicted of the crime in 1995 based largely on what we now know was a false confession. After hours of interrogation, Murphy, who was very young and had just learned that her son had been brutally murdered, was coerced into claiming that she accidentally killed her baby when she knelt down to pick up a knife following a confrontation with a neighbor. The prosecution also falsely implied to the jury that blood recovered from the scene matched Murphy’s blood type.
On April 9, 2014, the court ordered DNA testing of crime scene evidence. The court also issued orders for additional discovery in the case. Harris moved to overturn Murphy’s conviction on May 30, 2014, on the eve of being called to the witness stand to testify regarding what was known about the blood evidence at trial. At that point, the court ordered Murphy’s release from prison.
“I’m troubled by the fact that the prosecutor implied that there was blood from the defendant at the scene when he had documents in his files showing that the blood could not have been the defendant’s,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “Prosecutors have an obligation to get to the truth, not merely win convictions.”
Subsequent to Murphy’s release, DNA testing of a blood stain on a curtain between the living room where Murphy was asleep and the kitchen where the body was found identified the blood as coming from an unknown male. That blood stain was found directly below a large stain of blood that came from the victim.
In court today, with Harris’s consent, the court entered an order dismissing the charges against Murphy with prejudice based on a showing of actual innocence. Murphy is represented by Richard O’Carroll and Sharisse O’Carroll of O’Carroll & O’Carroll in Tulsa and Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project.