One of the most important pieces of evidence supporting Tyra’s innocence is the 911 call she made the morning of Michelle Lai’s murder. 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.
Tyra’s lawyers did not introduce the 911 call because of some specific portions of the call: (1) Tyra giving the dispatcher an incorrect name, and (2) Tyra distanced herself from the scene by saying she heard about the incident from a girlfriend. Tyra, like any young person her age, was scared of being connected to the shooting that had just taken place. Her answers were the result of panic, and even though these portions of the 911 call are suspect, the portions of the call show that Tyra was human and that all she wanted to do was help the girl who had been shot, who she later found out was Michelle Lai. Regardless of these two hiccups, the call should have been submitted to the jury.
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.
“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.
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.”