A man convicted of beating a 15-month-old girl to death in 1998 who had his conviction overturned because of judicial error is back in the Muscogee County Jail.
Timothy Murphy, 41, was booked into the Columbus jail on Monday. Previously serving a life sentence plus 20 years, Murphy will get a new trial because of inappropriate comments made by former Superior Court Judge Doug Pullen.
In responding to an objection during Detective Drew Tyner’s testimony, Pullen referred to the officer as “a good detective,” and also commented that Tyner “has worked a lot of cases and he’s got a recollection, and he’s got a written memorandum, and hopefully between the two of those and his good efforts, we’re going to find the truth of the matter.”
In Murphy’s case, the Supreme Court ruled the evidence was sufficient for a conviction. It was Pullen’s inappropriate commentary during Tyner’s testimony that prompted the reversal.
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Pullen resigned last year amid a judicial misconduct investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Murphy and his codefendant, Carmen Jackson, were found guilty in the Sept. 19, 1998, death of Jackson’s daughter, Tytanna. Murphy lived with Jackson and her two children, and Murphy had been babysitting the child that day while Jackson was at work.
About midnight, after Jackson arrived home, Murphy heard the child whining and found her struggling to breathe. According to testimony, Murphy administered CPR while Jackson called 911.
Medical experts said at trial that the baby had been beaten so severely that her pancreas ruptured. She also had wounds consistent with sexual abuse, two broken ribs and bruising all over her body.
Murphy and Jackson were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years. The Supreme Court upheld Jackson’s conviction and sentence in 2007, and her case is unaffected by the Supreme Court’s decision about Murphy.