Exonerated Mom Spent 20 Years in Prison

TULSA (CN) – Tulsa police planted evidence and coerced an innocent teenager to send her to prison for 20 years for murdering her child, until she was exonerated and freed, she claims in court.
     Michelle Dawn Murphy was 17 years old when she found the body of her infant son nearly decapitated in her kitchen on Sept. 12, 1994. She says defendant police Det. Mike Cook coerced a confession from her “which had no basis in reality” and “knowingly used this false evidence” for a probable cause arrest affidavit.
     Murphy sued Tulsa, former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, nine police and crime lab employees and four employees of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation in Federal Court on Sept. 14.
     She claims Cook threatened her into saying she was in a “dream” and that she “accidentally fell” and cut through her son’s neck, an “implausible statement” police announced in a “misleading” news release saying she had confessed.
     “Faced with this reality, acting individually and in concert, the defendants then intentionally planted evidence and fabricated false inculpatory evidence against Ms. Murphy, irreparably and unconstitutionally tainting her criminal trial by distorting the other evidence presented against her – faulty and false blood comparison evidence from the so-called forensic lab and evidence from a paid informant whose recent release from a mental hospital was withheld from the jury,” the 51-page complaint states.
     “Det. Cook even groomed the probable killer into a star eyewitness before the witness died under mysterious circumstances.”
     Murphy was convicted of first degree murder in November 1995.
     She was freed in May 2014 based on DNA evidence and was exonerated four months later when Harris declined to retry her because of insufficient evidence.
     Murphy says that 10 years into her incarceration, defendant criminalist David Sugiyama defied a court order to evade testing of exculpatory evidence that would have triggered a new trial.
     She says prosecutor Harris facilitated the adoption of her 2-year-old daughter when she was convicted, “forever alienat(ing)” her from her mother.
     Tulsa officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.
     Murphy seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, deliberate indifference, pain and suffering, lost income, inadequate medical care and emotional distress.
     She is represented by Richard O’Carroll.

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