Below is a summary of the evidence of Tyra’s innocence:
- Victim Holly Lai’s testimony at Kelly Johnson’s trial. Holly Lai testified at Juvenile Kelly Johnson’s trial that it was Johnson who robbed the necklace from one of the other victims (there was only one necklace at issue in the case), demonstrating that Tyra’s confession to grabbing the necklace from the victim was false.
- Tyra’s 911 call. Tyra called 911 after the shooting to summon help for the victims, while her co-defendants – the people who actually committed the crimes – fled to a motel where they smoked crack and had sex. The call was powerful evidence that Tyra was not acting in concert with the individuals who committed robbery and murder.
- The affidavits of Tyra’s co-defendants and witnesses. Three of Tyra’s co-defendants and two witnesses at the scene establish that Tyra took no part in the robbery, tried to stop it, and had left the scene at the time of the shooting.
- Polygraph reports. Tyra, her four co-defendants, and Tyra’s friend Rebecca all took and passed polygraphs supporting Tyra’s innocence claim. The polygraphs were taking by five different polygraph examiners. Tyra was polygraphed twice, including once by a former FBI agent who specializes in conducting polygraphs. Although polygraphs are not admissible in court proceedings unless both sides agree, this evidence is nonetheless helpful in evaluating the credibility of Tyra’s account of what happened.
For more information read below.
Soon after entering her apartment, Tyra heard a panicky voice screaming, “Please help! My sister has been shot!” Wanting to get help for the girl who had been shot, who she would later find out was Michelle Lai, Tyra called 911. Tyra told the dispatched that the police needed to “hurry up and come” because girls in a car had been robbed. Tyra was the only person charged who called 911. As expert Ira Mickenberg states in his report on the case, “Tyra Patterson made the 911 call telling the police that a crime was being committed, and asking them to come quickly. Far from evidencing a consciousness of guilt, Tyra Patterson was the one who had called the police, reported the crime, and asked then to send help.” Click here to read Ira Mickenberg’s entire report. At trial, Tyra’s lawyers did not introduce Tyra’s 911 call into evidence. Without this crucial piece of evidence, the jurors were left with a picture of Tyra in which she was associated more closely with the group that carried out the robberies and the murder. Yet, the other co-defendants all fled to a motel together where they did drugs and had sex. Tyra went home and called 911. This distinguishes her from those who actually committed the offenses.
However, as Tyra was about to hang up the phone, the dispatcher asked for her name. At that moment, Tyra panicked, worried that if she gave her real name she would get in trouble for picking up the necklace from the ground and taking it home with her. Scared and caught off guard, Tyra gave her name as “Tiara.” Still flustered, Tyra then told the dispatcher that she had heard about the robbery from a girlfriend. Tyra did so for the same reason she gave her name as Tiara: she was afraid that if the police found out that she left the scene with a necklace, she would be charged with a robbery and shooting she did not commit. Later in the call, she pronounced her name correctly and gave the dispatcher her correct address and truthfully stated that she lived in the manager’s unit.
Six jurors have listened to the entire 911 call and have signed sworn affidavits claiming that the 911 call would have affected the deliberations. Click here to read the juror affidavits in their entirety. Below are some relevant quotes from the juror affidavits:
“The 911 call should’ve been played at trial because I believe it’s strong evidence of Tyra’s innocence. She would’ve never called 911 if she thought she’d done something wrong…If I had heard the 911 call at trial, it almost certainly would’ve given me a reason to follow my instincts and vote not guilty.” Day Affidavit ¶¶ 11, 13.
“The 911 tape was important evidence that I think the defense should have played. The fact that Ms. Patterson sought help for the shooting victim struck me as more consistent with innocence than guilt.” Ackerman Affidavit ¶¶11.
“Listening to the call only reinforced my belief that the tape should have been played at trial…The fact that Tyra almost immediately called 911 supports my belief that it was a genuine attempt to help because Tyra thought the shooting was wrong…If I had heard the 911 call at trial, it would have factored considerably into my deliberations and might have given me a reason not to convict Tyra.” New Affidavit at ¶¶10, 12, 14.
“I think the defense should have played the tape. It was important evidence that we should’ve heard. . . . If I had heard the 911 call at trial, I would not have voted to convict her.” Wilson Affidavit at ¶¶17, 19.
“I didn’t know that Ms. Patterson called 911 after the shooting. We didn’t hear the tape at trial. The fact that Ms. Patterson sought help for the shooting victim makes me think she was more likely innocent than guilty.” Reed Affidavit at ¶¶10 11.
“If Tyra’s attorneys would’ve presented the 911 call, it would have certainly cast doubt in my mind. The 911 call shows that Tyra reacted differently than someone who is only looking out for herself. The call showed concern for the victim. I think the fact that Tyra called 911 is inconsistent behavior for someone who supposedly committed aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. If she had truly been guilty, she would’ve been concerned with covering up for herself instead of calling 911.” Ackerman Affidavit at ¶¶15, 16.
When Tyra’s defense counsel decided not to introduce the 911 call as evidence, Tyra was robbed of the chance to have a jury consider every circumstance surrounding Michelle Lai’s tragic murder.
As expert Ira Mickenberg explains,
“The 911 call was powerful evidence that the State’s theory was wrong – that Tyra Patterson was not acting in concert with the criminals, but was trying to get police help for the victims. It also corroborated Ms. Patterson’s contention that the criminals fled together after the shooting, and that Ms. Patterson, who was not involved with them, called the police from her home. This evidence was completely consistent with what Ms. Patterson told her lawyers she had been doing.”
Holly Lai’s Testimony that One of the Other Co-Defendants Grabbed the Necklace from Candice Brogan-
The jury convicted Tyra of aggravated murder because it found she committed a robbery during which Michelle Lai was killed. The jury was left with no choice but to conclude that Tyra had committed robbery because the defense did nothing to challenge Tyra’s false confession, in which she admitted ripping a necklace from one of the victims. But perhaps the most powerful evidence that Tyra’s confession was false was the testimony of Holly Lai at an earlier trial. Nearly a year before Tyra’s trial, Holly testified at co-defendant Kellie Johnson’s trial that it was Kellie who ripped the necklace from victim Candice Brogan. [Click here to read that testimony]. Because there was only one necklace at issue in the case, Holly’s testimony that it was Kellie who grabbed the necklace shows that Tyra’s confession was false. Although the Tyra’s lawyers brought out Holly’s prior testimony, they then ruined the point they were trying to make by conceding that Tyra’s confession was true. Not surprisingly, many of the jurors who submitted affidavits did not recall Holly Lai’s testimony at Kellie Johnson’s trial. The jurors submitted affidavits saying that had they realized that Holly Lai’s testimony in Tyra’s trial contradicted her earlier testimony in Kellie Johnson’s trial, they would have had more reason to doubt Tyra’s guilt. Click here to read the full affidavits. Relevant quotes are excerpted below:
“If the defense used the transcript in its questioning of Holly Lai it was unclear to me that the defense was doing so … Had I realized that Holly Lai testified at Kellie Johnson’s trial that Kellie had taken the necklace from one of the victims, I would have had another reason to doubt Tyra’s guilt.” Ackerman at ¶¶15, 16.
“During deliberations, I remember having no doubt that Tyra reached into the car and grabbed the necklace. But after reading Holly Lai’s testimony in Kellie Johnson’s trial, I am sure that I would have doubted whether Tyra actually took the necklace off of the girl in the car.” Guy at ¶¶12.
Polygraph Evidence Corroborates Tyra’s Innocence Claim-
The polygraph evidence in this case provides powerful corroboration of Tyra’s innocence claim. Tyra, witness Becca Stidham and co-defendants LaShawna Keeney, Angela Thuman, Kellie Johnson, and Joseph Letts all voluntarily submitted to polygraph examinations. [click on the names to see the polygraph examination report].
A polygraph examination is often referred to as a lie detector examination- In a polygraph exam, a series of carefully designed questions are asked by a trained polygraph examiner to an examinee. The polygraph examiner then observes the subject’s cardiovascular, breathing, and sweat gland reactions to identify truthful and deceptive answers. While the results of polygraphs are not admissible in Ohio courts unless admissibility is stipulated to by the parties, polygraphs can be very reliable depending on the type of examination performed.
As examiners Robert Patterson and Don Clark state in affidavits that you can read here, polygraphs are generally considered to be approximately 92% reliable. Criminal investigation “single issue” polygraphs are easier to administer and are considered more reliable than pre-employment screening “multi-issue” polygraphs. A polygraph examiner with more training, certification, and years of experience also increases the reliability of the exam. Additionally, it is far less likely for a person to be found truthful in a polygraph examination when they were actually lying than vice versa. The polygraph examinations in this case are each single-issue examinations, conducted by highly qualified and experienced examiners, where the examinee was found to be truthful. Thus, each exam bears significant indicia of reliability.
In this case, four different examiners conducted the examinations, each of whom is a former police officer with over twenty years of experience conducting polygraph examinations. The polygraph examiners determined that the examinees were telling the truth as to the following:
1- Tyra was not friends with Angie, LaShawna, or Kellie.
2- Tyra did not take any items from inside the Chevette or participate in the robbery in
3- Tyra did not assault any of the victims inside the Chevette.
4- Tyra tried to stop LaShawna by telling her to leave the victims alone.
5- Tyra trield to pull Angie away during the robbery.
6- Tyra did not leave the scene with Thuman, Keeney, Johnson, Letts, and Moten and
in fact, was not present on the scene when Michelle was shot.
7- Tyra did pick up a necklace from the ground as she left the scene.
Six polygraphs examinations confirm that Tyra Patterson was not involved in the shooting death of Michelle Lai or the accompanying robbery. As examiner Robert Patterson stated in his affidavit, the chances that all six results were incorrect or “false negatives,” given the number of examinees and examiners, is “slim to none.”
Please consider signing the petition at www.change.org/justicefortyra