Woman convicted of murder 22 years ago denied release despite changed evidence

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:11 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled to keep Tasha Shelby behind bars despite the former medical examiner changing his ruling on the child’s cause of death from a homicide to an accident in 2018.

”Enough of my life has taken, enough of my children’s life has been taken and my family’s life and enough is enough. Please let me come home,” Tasha Shelby said.

That’s the plea from Tasha Shelby, the woman convicted of killing her 2 year old step son Brian Thompson.

From a payphone in Central Mississippi Correction Facility, Tasha continues her two-decade-long fight for freedom, even after a federal judge ruled against her petition to be released.

“This federal magistrate most recently, has said this was simply a battle of the experts. So it’s on the one side, you have Tasha’s experts. On the other side, the state has their one expert of Scott Fenton. And it’s a controversy,” Shelby’s long-time attorney Valena Beety explained.

That controversy: whether little Brian died from “Shaken Baby Syndrome” because of Tasha or because of a seizure. Tasha said that day was one of the hardest in her life.

“I walk in in the middle of the night and I see him, you know, appearing to have a seizure on the floor. I’m emotional, I’m calling the hospital. We get there. You know, he’s taken away by doctors. Then to come home, and, you know, my kids, my children that I still had were taken from me,” Shelby explained.

In 2018, former state medical examiner Dr. Leroy Riddick changed his ruling on the death from a homicide to an accident.

““There was no other case where he had changed his opinion. He’s very well respected. It’s very unusual to see a medical examiner change their opinion,” Beety said.

But that hasn’t been enough to free Shelby. Beety filed a petition for Tasha’s release after the medical examiner’s change. This month, a federal judge ruled against that petition.

“That’s the most confusing part for me because they’re saying they don’t believe Dr. Riddick now, but yet you’re keeping me here based on what you believe he said in 2000,” Shelby explained.

However, Tasha and her attorney aren’t giving up hope.

“Thanks to again, more people coming forward in this case. Juror 42 was related to little Brian was related to the deceased child. And there’s just no way that he could have separated that, from his decision about Tasha as guilt,” Beety said.

Tasha said she stands by her innocence and hopes public outcry will be her saving grace.

“Go to the truth in the heart of this story. Because there I’m innocent, and I am pleading to Governor Tate Reeves, to please read this. Please listen, there are so many people I know that are emailing him and asking him to look into this. Join our team and help fight this injustice and right this wrong,” Shelby plead.

In the last few moments on that phone call, Tasha said she remains hopeful that State leaders and the justice system will release her -- even after 22 years in prison.

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