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Innocence Blog Mother’s Day Series: Tammy and Philip Barnett

By Innocence Staff

Nathan and Philip Barnett in court in 2011. Photo by The Herald-Dispatch.

Innocence Project Senior Staff Attorney, Karen Thompson, authored the following post in honor of her client Philip Barnett’s mom, Tammy Barnett.

In my five years as an attorney at the Innocence Project, I’ve met many parents who keep their children afloat through the long nightmare of a wrongful conviction.

Tammy Barnett is my client Philip Barnett’s mom. While wrongful conviction is hardly a unique or unheard of phenomenon, Tammy is one of the first mothers I have worked alongside who has not one, but two children living through and surviving a wrongful incarceration.

I represent her eldest son Philip who, along with his brother Nathan and two other men, was wrongly convicted of murder. After conducting DNA testing on crime scene evidence, we uncovered a DNA profile that “hit” in the CODIS federal DNA database to a man with a long history of violence against women and children. That profile excluded both Barnett brothers as well as their co-defendants.

Despite this, Nathan served his full sentence, and Philip remains behind bars. Even in cases like the Barnetts’, where DNA does exactly what it is supposed to—identify the true perpetrator in a case—we often end up having to fight on.

The truth is, we can’t do this work without the activism, love, intelligence and fight that moms like Tammy bring to us as advocates and to their own families. Moms like Tammy stay on top of their kids’ cases, stay in touch with me constantly and communicate with their sons in prison. By becoming warriors, they keep hope alive for the entire family. And, to be honest, they inspire me as their lawyer to fight even harder for their freedom.

No mother should be forced to fight the wrongful conviction of her child. But to be fighting the wrongful convictions of two of your children, simultaneously, is a superhuman feat that no one should be asked to bear.

Join us in sharing the Barnett family’s story of strength and perseverance this Mother’s Day in honor of Tammy. This post is the third of a four-part Mother’s Day series. Follow the Innocence Blog to read other stories about exonerees, their mothers and their children.

Related: Innocence Blog Mother’s Day Series: Rosie and Lamonte McIntyre

4 Comments

  1. Coreen Kerr

    I really don’t get it if the DNA results showed the Barnett boys innocence than why is one of them still incarcerated & the other had to do the full jail time? I’m Canadian & I can’t for the life of me figure out the logic(?) of this ‘situation.’ Only in America eh??

  2. Benny Pezzino

    I HATE when someone is faulsly accused.
    Because I went thru the same thing AND THEY TOOK MY HOUSE.

  3. RITA MAXWELL

    HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL OF THE MOTHERS WHO ARE IN PRISON TODAY OR HAVE FORMERLY BEEN IN PRISON AND WERE WRONGLY CONVICTED OF CRIMES,AND/ OR HAD TO FIGHT FOR THEIR CHILDREN WHO WERE CHARGED OF CRIMES OR WERE CONVICTED OF CRIMES THEY DIDNT COMMIT. THIS IS WHEN OUR INNOCENCE AND FREEDOM ARE TAKEN WITHOUT REASON OF CAUSE. FOR THOSE THAT KNOW FIRST HAND HOW EASY IT IS AND HOW FAST IT CAN ALL CHANGE. LIKE A THEIF IN THE NITE TAKING WHATEVER IS THERE NEVER THINKING WHO IT MAY AFFECT OR HOW . PLEASE HELP ME BY JOINING THE INNOCENSE PROJECT, HELP THESE WRONGLY CONVICTED OF CRIMES AND SIT IN PRISON WITH NO HOPE AT ALL OF CHANGING THE VERDICT , UNLESS WE HELP. MOTHERS DAY IS A SPECIAL DAY TYO MOST EVERY ONE , JUST THINK ABOUT HOW MANY MOTHERS ARE WITHOUT THEIR SON OR DAUGHTER THIS EVENING BECAUSE THEY ARE IN PRISON , AND NIT JUST IN PRISON, BUT IN PRISON FORF A CRIME THEYHAD N OTHING TO DO WITH AND NEVER COMMITED .
    MAKE A MOTHER HAPPY BY HELPING THE INNOCENSE PROJECT BRING LAW MAKERS AND JUDGES AND COPS TO THE TABLE TO FREE THE PERSON OR PERSONS THEY CONVICTED.
    IN HONOR OF EVERY MOTHER WHO HAS A DAUGHTER OR SON IN PRISON AT THIS TIME, WHETHER IT BE A WRONGFUL CONVICTION OR IF THE CONVICTION WAS JUST. I WANT TO WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY MOTHERS DAY AND ILL BE PRAYING FOR THE RELEASE OF YOUR DAUGHTER OR SON, AND FOR A SPEEDY RELEASE AND AN END TO A LONG NIGHTMARE ..,….HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL

  4. Eliabetta Corona

    Tammy,
    what you are at heart truly is a blessing: it has the power of sunshine, it fosters the blossoming of life, and fuels stamina in front of any opposing hardship.
    Thank you for that, because it helps not only your loved ones. Virtue is grace received and served: this pure energy of love and service spreads grace all over, it benefits anyone in need of inspiration to courage.
    The hugest thank you from my heart,
    with prayers for you and your sons,
    Elisabetta

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