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Thomas Murphy

Other Wisconsin Cases with False Forensics
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In January 1998, 40-year-old Thomas Murphy was charged with raping the adult daughter of his girlfriend in Wood County, Wisconsin.

Murphy went to trial in Wood County Circuit Court in July 1999. The woman testified that she was in her bedroom when Murphy came in and raped her knifepoint. She asserted that she had been pregnant at the time and as a result of the rape, she suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby.

The prosecution presented forensic testimony that a hair found in the woman’s bed could have come from Murphy. A rape kit prepared at a hospital was negative for blood or semen or any other evidence that a rape occurred. A physician who examined the woman said he found signs of irritation of her genitals that were not inconsistent with sexual assault.

Murphy denied that he raped the woman, but on July 8, 1999, the jury convicted him of four counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Attorney Roak Parker was appointed to represent Murphy on appeal. He first filed a post-conviction petition for a new trial challenging the decision by the trial judge, Wood County Cicrcuit Court Judge James Mason, to allow the hair evidence to be presented to the jury. In 2000, Judge Mason granted the motion for a new trial on the ground that the testimony about the hair was erroneous and that the comparison was inconclusive.

Murphy went to trial a second time in January 2001. The defense called the woman’s former boyfriend who testified that he had broken up with the complainant just prior to her report of the rape. He said that she had tried to get him to come back to her by claiming she was pregnant with his child, but that he refused. He said he did not believe she was pregnant.

The defense also called a physician who testified that the woman was not pregnant and therefore never had a miscarriage. The physician also testified that the woman had genital warts and that scratching that area would have created the same irritated condition that was described by the prosecution medical testimony as evidence of sexual assault.

On January 31, 2001, the jury acquitted Murphy and he was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 3/21/2017
State:Wisconsin
County:Wood
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1998
Convicted:1999
Exonerated:2001
Sentence:20 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:40
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No