The Oklahoman Praises Innocence Project Efforts


Less than a week after Michelle Murphy was exonerated of the murder of her infant son based on new DNA evidence and other previously undisclosed evidence pointing to her innocence, the


underscored the importance of Innocence Project efforts in an editorial that was published today. Just one day after Murphy’s exoneration, the newspaper published an op-ed written by

Oklahoma Innocence Project

Executive Director Lawrence Hellman that questioned how many other innocent people like Murphy were sitting behind bars across the state.


Twenty years ago, Murphy, 17 at the time, awoke in the apartment she shared with her 15-week-old son and other child to find the infant brutally stabbed to death on the kitchen floor. She immediately went to a neighbor and called the police. After hours of interrogation, Murphy 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. At trial, the prosecution falsely implied to the jury that blood recovered from the scene matched Murphy’s blood type. She was convicted based largely on what evidence now proves was a false confession.


Although Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough found Murphy innocent and formally dismissed the case on Friday, District Attorney Tim Harris, wasn’t willing to say Murphy had been exonerated and pointed to legal red tape which prevents him from retrying the case. The



Instead it seems clear from a distance that the conviction was flawed from the outset — a young woman was overwhelmed by a legal system that’s the fairest in the world, a system that gets it right the overwhelming majority of the time, but erred badly this time.


Murphy had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now she’s free and looking to begin anew at age 37. Her plans? “Live a life. Try to find a job. I’ve always known I’m innocent.”


Cases like this are rare, thank goodness. As Hellman noted, there have been fewer than 30 exonerations in Oklahoma in the past quarter century. But cases like Murphy’s demonstrate the importance of what Hellman and his staff on the campus of Oklahoma City University do. One innocent person in prison is one too many.

Read the full editorial


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