- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A Tulsa County judge has ruled that District Attorney Tim Harris was not in direct contempt of court in the prosecution and subsequent dismissal of a 20-year-old murder case.

District Judge William Kellough denied an application Friday for the imposition of sanctions and a citation that alleged Harris engaged in four instances of contemptuous conduct in his handling of a murder charge against Michelle Murphy in the 1994 slaying of her 3-month-old son, the Tulsa World reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/13nVS2E ).

Murphy, who was 17 at the time, was convicted by a jury and spent 20 years behind bars before her sentence was vacated in May.

Harris, who had prosecuted the case, moved to dismiss the murder charge in September, saying he couldn’t reproduce the evidence necessary to convict Murphy again. Kellough dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning prosecutors are barred from retrying it.

Murphy’s attorneys accused Harris of making “no real effort” to see whether his office could have the same evidence from witnesses.

The attorneys contend Harris moved to dismiss the murder charge after he and a homicide detective were subpoenaed to testify because they would have been unable to do so “truthfully without admitting a criminal conspiracy to wrongfully convict an innocent person.”

The Oct. 2 application alleges that Harris “purposefully and willfully misled the jury” by misrepresenting blood-type evidence found at the scene.

Harris denied any conspiracy with two employees from the police department - the homicide detective and a lab technician - Assistant District Attorney James Dunn wrote in response to the allegations.

Dunn and Harris maintained the statements were designed to attack Harris’ character and professional reputation.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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