Oklahoma mother Michelle Murphy was convicted of murdering her 3-month-old son by slitting his throat in 1995. The mother maintained her innocence, noting that her confession was coerced by police and that a disturbed neighbor boy was responsible for her son’s death. Michelle was just 17-years-old when she was convicted and sentenced to life for the murder of her son. However, in 2014, Murphy’s sentence was vacated due to new DNA evidence. Now the woman has now filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit naming a number of police officers and a former district attorney in the case after serving 20 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit.
News On 6 reports that then-17-year-old Michelle Murphy was charged with the murder of her 3-month-old son when he was found with his throat slit in their family home. Murphy was detained by police, at which time she says she was coerced into a confession. Once the shock wore off, she maintained her innocence and blamed a 14-year-old neighborhood boy, William Lee, with the crime. Murphy’s lawyers noted that Lee had a history as a juvenile delinquent and that it was Lee who made the 911 call the night of the murder. Lee used a payphone outside of the home to dial in a “domestic situation” at the Murphy home. He later claimed he saw Michelle enter a room with the baby and exit covered in blood. The young teen said he couldn’t sleep and was outside on the sidewalk and saw the ordeal through a partially opened window.
With a confession, coerced or not, police dismissed Lee as a suspect and focused on Murphy. The confession sealed her fate, and she was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her infant son. Meanwhile, during Michelle’s hearing, Lee committed suicide. Following the suicide, Lee’s body was sent for an autopsy, at which time blood was drawn. In 2014, Michelle Murphy’s lawyers used the blood from the teen’s autopsy to compare to crime scene blood samples. They discovered that the unique AB blood type of Lee was found at the scene along with the baby’s AB blood. Nowhere in the DNA evidence did they find Michelle’s A type blood.
As a result of the DNA findings, Michelle’s conviction was dismissed with prejudice, and she was released from prison after serving 20 years for a crime she says she didn’t commit. Now the woman is filing a wrongful conviction lawsuit, noting that police knew the confession was coerced but used it in court anyway. She goes on to say false evidence was used in the trial and that the police went to the media with false information claiming Michelle had confessed, which hurt her chances of a failed trail. The 17-year-old Michelle told her lawyers that the police told her that she was in a “dream” at the time of the murder and that she accidentally “fell” with the knife, cutting her son’s throat. Michelle says in shock she confessed to the “dream” murder but later told police she wasn’t in a dream and didn’t kill her son.
The Tulsa World reports that Murphy may be entitled up to $175,000 due to a cap placed by the State of Oklahoma on these types of claims. However, Murphy’s lawyers say that is not enough for the emotional distress and time Michelle spent in prison. Therefore, Murphy will likely file a federal civil rights case in which more compensation can be secured.
Do you think Michelle Murphy is owed compensation from those who wrongfully convicted her of murdering her own son? How do you compensate someone for 20 years of lost life, defamation of character, and mental anguish during a time of severe distress in the young woman’s life? Is there any compensation that can rectify the situation?
[Image Credit: News On 6, News 9]