Photo: Michelle Murphy with exoneree Cornelius Dupree.
On September 12, with the consent of District Attorney Tim Harris, a Tulsa court exonerated Michelle Murphy of the murder of her infant son. Recent DNA testing of crime scene evidence points to an unknown male as the real perpetrator. In the course of representing Michelle, lawyers also uncovered other evidence pointing to her innocence that was known to the prosecution but never disclosed to the defense.
Michelle’s 15-week-old son was brutally stabbed to death on September 12, 1994. Michelle, just 17 at the time, was in her apartment with her son and two year old daughter on the night of the murder. Murphy later woke up and discovered her son’s body in the kitchen. She immediately went to a neighbor and called the police.
After hours of interrogation, Michelle, 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. At her trial, the prosecution also falsely implied to the jury that blood recovered from the scene matched Murphy’s blood type. Michelle was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.
On the eve of being called to the witness stand to testify regarding what was known about the blood evidence at trial, the District Attorney moved to overturn Murphy’s conviction on May 30th, and she was released. Subsequent DNA testing found that blood evidence at the scene did not come from Michelle but from an unknown male. Based on this, and with the District Attorney’s consent, the court entered an order dismissing the charges based on a showing of actual innocence.