Death of Baby
On April 11, 1989, teenage mother Sabrina Butler rushed her nine-month-old son, Walter Dean Butler, to the hospital after he suddenly stopped breathing. Doctors had attempted to resuscitate the child for thirty minutes, but failed, and Sabrina's baby died the same day. On April 12, 1989, the day after her son died, Sabrina was arrested and charged with Capital Murder. There were bruises left by her resuscitation attempts and the resuscitation attempted by the hospital.
Sabrina Butler's murder trial commenced on March 8, 1990. At the trial, prosecutors sought to prove that Sabrina's account of the events leading to her son's death were false, and that she had inflicted the fatal wounds intentionally. Sabrina Butler did not testify at her trial. Sabrina was convicted of both murder and child abuse following her trial, and even though she was only a teenager, she became the only woman on Mississippi's Death Row in 1990, condemned to die by lethal injection.
Following her conviction, Sabrina filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Mississippi on several bases. The courts reversed and remanded her convictions on August 26, 1992. The court said that the prosecution had failed to prove that the incident was anything more than an accident.
In 1995, Sabrina Butler's case went to retrial. By this time, more evidence emerged about how Sabrina did not murder her son. At the trial, one of Sabrina's neighbors had come forward with evidence that corroborated her account: that the injuries to her son occurred during the course of an unsuccessful attempt to administer CPR. In addition, the medical examiner changed his opinion about Walter's cause of death, which he now believed occurred due to a kidney malady. On December 17, 1995, Sabrina was acquitted and exonerated.
When Sabrina was acquitted of murder, she had spent more than five years in prison and thirty-three months on death row. She is the first of two women in the United States to be exonerated from death row, the other being Debra Milke in Arizona.
Today, she is living in the same Mississippi town in which she was convicted, has remarried, and is raising three children. She is now hoping to be a criminal investigator.
Sabrina Butler-Porter had a book published in 2012, entitled Exonerated: The Sabrina Butler Story.
- "Mississippi Victims of the State". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- "Supreme Court of Mississippi. Sabrina BUTLER v. STATE of Mississippi." (PDF). 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- "Sabrina Butler". Center of Wrongful Conviction on Youth. 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- "Sabrina Butler.". Wrongly Convicted Database Record. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- Toby Sheerer (2009-04-29). "Female death row exoneree Sabrina Butler shares story with students". Retrieved 2011-06-04.