Michigan Appeals Court Overturns Child Abuse Conviction

Blister packs of pills
A single morphine pill caused a deadly overdose for little Trinity.

When 11-month-old Trinity Murphy found a 60 mg morphine pill that was intended for her now-deceased grandmother, she did what every other normal baby would – she put it in her mouth and ate it. Tragically, her little body could not process opioids in that quantity, and she died of an overdose. Heartbroken as her parents were in the wake of her death, they had other issues to deal with. Namely CPS blaming them for their baby’s death!

Harold and Kimberly Murphy, the Sterling Heights couple, were convicted on child abuse charges and were sentenced to prison. They appeared before Judge James Biernat Jr., who had ordered the couple immediately jailed after their conviction. His reasoning at the time was that they were a flight risk and had tried to hide from Child Protective Services the fact that Kimberly had given birth to another baby during the pretrial stage of their case.

To add to their grief, the Murphy’s four other children had been removed from their custody after Trinity’s death. They were painted by CPS as being dirty, negligent parents who did not care for their family or their home. According to their defense attorneys, this was a false picture of the couple, and doesn’t come close to representing the truth. But CPS didn’t care. They told the court that the Murphy’s home was ‘filthy’ and that they were unfit parents.

CPS vilified the couple, and made them look bad in court.

The attorney representing Kimberly Murphy claimed that prior CPS records had tainted the case when they were entered into evidence, and had “poisoned the mind of the jury.”  Harold Murphy’s attorney said that it wasn’t a couple on trial, but rather “economics and poverty.” However, neither of these pleas made any difference. The jury had been tainted by the emotional arguments of the prosecution. The verdict came back as ‘guilty’, and the Murphy’s were looking at years behind bars.

However Kimberly Murphy’s wasn’t done fighting. She took her case to the Appeals Court, and after months of waiting behind bars for justice, it’s finally happened! Michigan’s Appellate Court has overturned Murphy’s child-abuse conviction, claiming there was insufficient evidence to show that she committed a reckless act which led to Trinity’s death. According to Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, the case was “built on emotion rather than fact or law.”

A Judge Gleicher points out, no one’s really sure how Trinity got the morphine. It was prescribed to her late grandmother for pain management, but the container of pills was kept out of reach. Although the prosecutor claimed that Murphy should have done a better job cleaning her home to make sure that there were no traces of medication left, the Appeals court says that failure to clean one’s home may be “inaction” but it certainly isn’t a reckless act.

This just goes to show that emotions can sway a jury, and that people don’t always make rational decisions, especially when the subject at hand is a highly charged one. Which is why it is so important to have an experienced defense attorney who can handle these types of emotional subjects correctly, and ensure that you get the best possible defense. At The Kronzek Firm we have spent decades successfully defending parents all over Michigan against trumped-up charges. We can help you too.