Tulsa Woman Convicted Of Killing Son In 1995 Released From Jail
TULSA, Oklahoma - Michelle Murphy was released from the Tulsa County jail Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, a Tulsa County judge vacated Murphy's conviction because new DNA tests cast doubt on evidence presented at her trial almost 20 years ago.
Michelle Murphy was serving a life sentence for the murder of her three-month-old son. Now she's almost free. She was in jail or prison for most of the last 20 years, but about 3 p.m. Friday, she checked out, most likely for good.
Murphy walked out of jail, set free by DNA evidence, helped by powerful attorneys, and supported by her family and a former teacher who never gave up on her. It was that teacher, Susan Jones, who she went to, first.
Murphy was taken into custody, her attorneys argue, because of bad police work. She was prosecuted, they argue, with the evidence of blood at the scene that was first thought to be hers - and later proven it couldn't be.
The case was handled by then-Assistant District Attorney Tim Harris.
"I have to make tough decisions. When I realized that the DNA evidence proved that my argument, that it was not the child's blood, was incorrect; I'm making an argument to the jury that I find out on science was not an accurate statement. My heart of hearts says I've got to make that right and that's what I did," said Harris.
Harris said his office is reviewing all the scientific evidence in the case. He said a witness, William Lee, died in 1995 in what was ruled an accidental asphyxiation.
During Murphy's trial, the defense blamed Lee for the child's death. He was never charged.
Murphy's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, claimed after Friday's hearing that Harris lied to the jury in 1995 and did nothing in 2005 when questions were raised concerning the blood evidence.
"Well he's the reason Michele spent 20 year in the penitentiary," Sharisse O'Carroll, Murphy's Attorney, said.
Attorneys Sharisse and Richard O'Carroll blame Harris personally for misleading the jury on the blood evidence, but said those issues are for another day in court.
While Murphy is getting her first taste of freedom, she has not been declared innocent, yet. The sentence was vacated, but the charges still apply.
She's free for now on bond, with an ankle monitor, and subject to retrial, but on her next court date in a month, the whole case could be thrown out.
"I've been waiting for this day for 20 years and I'm just glad my innocence is being acknowledged," Murphy said.
The D.A. said he will continue to review the DNA evidence and questioned whether they could gather witnesses to make their case in a new trial.
Murphy's attorney said they would welcome a new trial to finally clear their client.
Her next court appearance is set for June 24, 2014.