Wrongly Convicted Database Record

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Sabrina Butler

Years Imprisoned:



Felony Child Abuse - Murder



Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


Location of Trial:



Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

Sabrina Butler was wrongly convicted in March 1990 of felony child abuse in the death of her 9-month old son on April 11, 1989. 17-year-old Sabrina Butler's son had a heart murmur, and when he stopped breathing in his crib the child he was taken to a hospital emergency room but doctors were unable to revive him. Sabrina was charged with felony child abuse the next day based on the bruises caused by the doctor's efforts to revive the child. She was convicted based on testimony that she caused the bruises by abusing her child -- even though there was no evidence of any abuse and she wasn't present when the child stopped breathing. Mississippi law allowed a sentence of death for felony child abuse, and Sabrina Butler was sentenced to death. In August 1992 the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned her conviction and ordered a retrial. (Butler v. State, 608 So.2d 314 (MS Sup Ct 1992)) In 1995 she was acquitted after a retrial, during which the medical examiner changed his original opinion, stating that the child died of an internal kidney malady, and a neighbor testified that the bruises occurred during an unsuccessful attempt to administer CPR to the child. Butler was imprisoned for almost 6 years, including 2 years and 9 months on death row. As of May 2009 Sabrina Butler was the only woman in the U.S. exonerated after being sentenced to death row. When she later married her name became Sabrina Butler Porter.

Conviction Caused By:

Erroneous medical evaluation that Sabrina Butler's child died from internal injuries caused by child abuse.

Innocence Proved By:

In 1992 the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned her conviction and ordered a retrial. She was in 1995 acquitted after a retrial.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Found?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:


Information Source 1:

Death Penalty Information Center

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

Fatal Flaws - Innocence and Death Penalty in the USA, Amnesty International

Information Location 2:


Information Source 3:

Female death row exoneree shares story with students, By Toby Shearer, The Carolinian, April 28, 2009

Information Location 3:


Information Source 4:

Freedom no cure-all for those wrongly convicted, Michael Perlstein, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 30, 2003.

Information Location 4:


Information Source 5:

Butler v. State, 608 So.2d 314 (MS Sup Ct 1992)

Information Location 5:



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