Oklahoma Woman Released After 20 Years In Prison Adjusting To Freedom
TULSA, Oklahoma - Michelle Murphy, the Oklahoma woman whose conviction for murdering her child 20 years ago was recently vacated, was back in court Tuesday.
Michelle Murphy was serving a life sentence for the murder of her 3-month-old son. A Tulsa County judge vacated Murphy's conviction because new DNA tests cast doubt on evidence presented at her trial.
Murphy was only 17 years old when her son died after his throat was slashed. She was convicted and sent to prison for life without parole but was released last month when it was discovered some blood from the scene was never tested during her trial.
On Tuesday, the judge let her get her ankle monitor removed.
She has been out of prison one month now, and her attorney says she has learned to drive a stick shift and been introduced to an iPod. He said she's doing well, but it's an adjustment.
The case to exonerate her is moving forward, but right now hinges on a spot of blood that was found inside her baby's diaper.
Michelle Murphy was surrounded by friends who showed up to support her at court. They believe in her innocence and hope it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world knows it too.
Barry Scheck with the Innocence Project in New York was on speaker phone with the judge during the hearing. He says the preliminary DNA testing on the blood drop found in the diaper should be done by next week, but the full report will take a month.
Her attorney believes Murphy's case was deliberately mishandled.
"It was a drop which indicated it came from the killer, a person over the top of the baby," said attorney Richard O'Carroll. "It could be the baby's blood or if the killer cut himself, it could be the killer's blood."
Murphy's attorney believes the real killer was Murphy's 15-year-old neighbor, William Lee.
When first arrested, Murphy told police she accidentally cut her baby while picking him up, after she had a confrontation with Lee.
She later said she felt pressured by police during questioning.
She testified at trial that an intruder killed her son while she was asleep.
The teenage neighbor, Lee, testified at Murphy's preliminary hearing that he never went into her apartment, but peeked in the window and saw her with the bloody baby in her arms. He died the next year.
So, if his blood is now found inside, that will be huge for proving Murphy's innocence.
"DNA evidence is a magic bullet and gets you actual innocence if you can prove third party blood inside the home," O'Carroll said.
O'Carroll says even if the DNA test is inconclusive, he believes they can prove she's innocent.
He doesn't believe innocent mistakes were made, he believes the DA at the time, Tim Harris, deliberately misled the jury about the blood evidence.
Harris denies that. Tim Harris says it is a matter of mistakes.
Right now, everything hinges on this DNA test and then, we'll know what direction the case will take. In the meantime, the judge has ordered the DA's office to continue handing over documents from the case 20 years ago to Murphy's attorneys.
Murphy's next court hearing is in July.