Brandy Murrah, the former owner of an Alabama test lab was sentenced to prison for 15 years on Thursday
Murrah, 37, admitting to faking drug tests that cost parents custody of kids
“I know I did wrong,” Brandy Murrah of Ozark, Alabama told her sentencing hearing last Thursday
According to the plea arrangement reached in September, Murrah, admitted guilt on a felony charge of perjury as well as 16 misdemeanor counts of forgery
Several parents who lost custody of their children because of the bogus results from Murrah’s A&J Lab Collections in Ozark, testified
One victim, Jennifer Severs, said it took her months to get her kids back after Murrah’s lab claimed she’d used drugs, even though a doctor never even made a screening
Reading their victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing for Brandy Murrah on Thursday inside the Dale County Courthouse, parents said she stood by callously while their children were kept from them due to drug test reports that she falsified. Murrah’s current employers on the other hand, described her as a hard worker who was dependable and caring. Murrah, 37, the former owner of an Ozark lab test collection company, will was handed a 15 year prison term by Judge William Filmore after hearing testimony from those who said she falsified lab reports that led to their losing custody of their children.
As part of the plea arrangement reached in September, Murrah received 15 years on a felony charge of perjury and 12 months on each of 16 misdemeanor counts of forgery to run concurrently.
“I know I did wrong,” Brandy Murrah, 37, told her sentencing hearing last Thursday after pleading guilty to a felony charge of perjury as well as 16 misdemeanor counts of forgery, according to the Dothan Eagle.
“I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my life … I’m sorry for anyone I ever hurt. I really did not do this intentionally to ever hurt anyone,” she told Judge William Filmore, while offering no motive for the forgeries.
While Murrah’s attorney, David Harrison, argued she should get community corrections or probation over prison, District Attorney Kirke Adams said defendant deserved jail time for the suffering she caused: “She has committed a fraud upon the whole court system,” Adams said.
Murrah was arrested by Ozark police in 2019 after she was charged with falsifying the results of drug screenings handled by her lab, A&J Lab Collections, which was providing drug-screen reports and paternity tests to the Dale County Department of Human Resources.
The perjury charge stems from a court hearing where Murrah testified about the drug test results on a father who was trying to retain custody of his children.
The forgery charges stem from falsified reports that had never actually been processed and confirmed by the doctor listed.
One of the victims, Jennifer Severs, was in a custody battle with her ex-husband when Murrah collected hair follicle samples for drug screenings on the family as part of the custody case.
The test showed Severs was positive for drugs even though Severs said she doesn’t use any drugs.
While additional tests were negative, it still took months before she was finally reunited with her children because the Department of Human Resources used the original test results, Severs testified.
Subsequently she contacted a doctor listed on Murrah’s report only to learn that the doctor had never done the screening. She filed a report with the Ozark Police Department.
Some of the parents who lost custody of their children because of the bogus results from Murrah’s A&J Lab Collections in Ozark told the court of the pain Murrah’s lies caused their families.
In the case of Grace Locke, her 3-month-old baby was taken away from her for three weeks in 2017 after her drug test results falsely showed that she was positive for methamphetamine.
Previously Locke had lost custody of her two children due to her drug use. Rehab and sobriety followed after an arrest. By 2019, Locke said, she was clean and wanted to be reunited with her two older children after giving birth to her third child.
It ws at a meeting with her case workers from Dale County to discuss a plan to regain custody, that she was told that her latest drug test had come back positive for methamphetamine and her baby’s test showed exposure. – Her 3-month-old baby was taken from her during the meeting.
“I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest because I knew I was doing right with this one,” said.
She was tested again with negative results, but her baby was taken away from her for nearly three weeks.
“I don’t understand why anybody would ever do that to any family, any children, for no reason,” Locke said.