Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Debra Brown





Life Imprisonment

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


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Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Debra Brown was wrongly convicted in October 1995 for the November 7, 1993 murder of her employer Lael Brown, who had been shot to death in Logan, Utah. She had found his body and evidence was discovered that she had forged $3,500 in checks from his bank account. She had borrowed money from the victim in the past, and she was prosecuted on the theory that she sought to financially gain from his murder. The evidence of the forged checks increased her charge from murder charge to aggravated murder. During her trial in 1995 she did not testify, but the jury wasn't allowed to be told that she passed a polygraph examination 10 days after the victim's died. She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In 2002 the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center began investigating her case. In 2008 Utah enacted a law allowing a prisoner to challenge their conviction based on non-DNA evidence. During a hearing held partially in January and partially in March 2011 Brown testified about how she found 72-year-old Lael Brown's body, and she admitted that she had forged the $3,500 in checks. Five witnesses provided exculpatory testimony, particularly regarding the victim's time of death. On May 2, 2011 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda ruled that Brown was "factually innocent" and ordered the state to pay Brown $570,780 in financial assistance. The first payment was ordered to be $114,156. She was released on May 9, 2011 after being incarcerated for 17 years. "

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"On May 2, 2011 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda ruled that Brown was "factually innocent" and ordered that the state to pay Brown $570,780 in financial assistance."

Defendant Aided By:

Rocky Mountain Innocence Center

Compensation Awarded:

"$570,780 (State of Utah, May 2, 2011 - state judge order)"

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"After 17 years, Debra Brown leaves prison to red carpet family reception, By Emiley Morgan (staff), Deseret News, May 9, 2011"

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

"Exonerated woman Debra Brown talks about freedom, frustration with AG's office, Deseret News, By Sara Israelsen-Hartley, June 1, 2011"

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Information Source 3:

"17 years later, Debra Brown denies murder on stand; prosecutor says conviction should stand, By Sara Israelsen-Hartley (staff), Deseret News, January 21, 2011"

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Information Source 4:

"Judge hears additional testimony in Logan woman's innocence case, By Emiley Morgan (staff), Deseret News, March 7, 2011"

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Information Source 5:

"Logan woman convicted of murder in 1995 deemed innocent, By Emiley Morgan (staff), Deseret News, May 3, 2011"

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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