Debra Dewberry

Debra with her four children
Debra with her four children, clockwise: William, Marcus, Nathan, Amber

Debra Dewberry was convicted in Oklahoma in 1996 of the murder of her baby daughter, and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Debra, aged 32 at trial, said she gave birth unexpectedly on the toilet, and then disposed of the baby’s body in a trash can after giving birth in June 1994.

She testified that she did not call 911 because the child was already dead.

Doctors testified for the prosecution that the baby’s lungs showed signs that she had breathed.

A doctor who testified for the defence said no such conclusion could be reached.

It was just beyond our belief the baby had never taken a breath,” said Tracy Smith, the jury foreman. It was our belief the baby fell into the toilet and drowned.”

The suggested motive was that she thought the father might be someone other than her husband.

More information

According to Debra’s mother:

  • Debra was questioned for 5 months before she was arrested.
  • A detective testified that Debra made motion of baby kicking with her fingers,and also gurgling sounds with her mouth.
  • The interview was not video taped.


On any view losing a baby in childbirth => life imprisonment is incredibly harsh, and the conviction does not sound at all safe.
The prosecution case was that Debra dangled the baby in the toilet after giving birth, which seems quite improbable, and it seems the jury
(a) Didn’t believe it.
(b) Thought it was an accident
(c) There was no evidence of drowning.
None of this seems consistent!
The suggested motive is not convincing.

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