I’m not sure how I missed this story for so long; Murray’s case started in Austin, when she was just 11 years old. In 1996 she was convicted of stomping a two-year-old that she had been babysitting to death, and sentenced to 20 years. They used a statement she had made (after hours of being questioned, without an adult) to seal the deal.
This was set aside almost immediately, after a judge realized that Murray had received no defense.
She was tried again in 1997, and convicted after a medical examiner testified that bruises on the baby’s body matched the sneaker tread of the 11 year-old’s shoes. She was convicted again and sentenced to 25 years.
In 1999, the Texas Court of Appeals set aside the conviction once again, ruling that her confession should have been thrown out because she had not received an explanation of her rights, and because hey, interrogating an eleven year old for hours non-stop without a family member present might not be, y’know, SOP best practices. Maybe. Also it was pretty apparent that the child in her care had been beaten before she ever arrived at Murray’s home, and gee maybe we should look into that.
Charges were dismissed with prejudice, which means they can not bring her back to trial, and Murray was released after having spent many of her formative years behind bars, as a convicted murderer.
There are many layers of tragedy in this story, not the least of which is that she was convicted twice, without a defense, with a confession obtained by illegally isolating her from her family, from a lawyer, even from a magistrate, and testimony that was later retracted by the medical examiner who had offered it.
This is what we’re fighting against; this is a facet of the justice system that many people simply refuse to see. Justice came, eventually, for most of the people I’ve written about. I believe it will eventually come for Carlos Coy. I urge you to attend or support the upcoming Day of Unity; let Harris County know that we simply want to know that justice will prevail.