Who is Brandy Murrah? Woman gets 15 years jail for forging drug test results, costing parents custody of children
OZARK, ALABAMA: The former owner of an Alabama drug testing lab was sentenced to jail on November 12 at the Dale County Courthouse after she was found guilty of falsifying drug test results. Prosecutors say that due to Brandy Murrah's actions multiple parents have lost custody of their children. The 37-year-old woman from Clopton was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in September to one felony charge of perjury and 16 misdemeanor counts of forgery, according to the Dothan Eagle.
Prior to her sentencing, Murrah had admitted her wrongdoing to Judge William Filmore and had also apologized for the hurt she had caused to others. While speaking to the court, Murrah shared, "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."
Murrah was arrested last year in Ozark, Alabama, on charges of fabricating drug screening results that had been processed at her lab A&J Lab Collections. Her lab was frequently used to provide drug screening and paternity tests to the Dale County Department of Human Resources. Due to her false drug screening results, many parents had been denied custody of their children and shared their stories in court. A woman whose 3-month-old baby was taken away from her for three weeks in 2017 after her drug results showed that she had falsely tested positive for methamphetamine was among those who spoke. Grace Locke told the court that she had been trying to get her life on track after her two children were taken away from her due to her drug use in 2017. After going to rehab she had a third child and hoped to reunite her family — shared, "I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest because I knew I was doing right with this one." "I don’t understand why anybody would ever do that to any family, any children, for no reason," Locke said.
Jennifer Severs also testified in court that she had been in a custody battle with her ex-husband when Murrah collected hair follicle samples for drug screenings of the family, according to The Dothan Eagle. The lab results showed that Severs had tested positive for using methamphetamine and marijuana, according to WTVY, although she was not using drugs. This cost her to lose custody of her children. Severs’s mother tracked down the doctor who had supposedly done the test from the paperwork and discovered that he had never tested the sample. The family then took their findings to the Ozark Police Department, which launched the investigation into Murrah’s activities. Severs took additional tests, all of which came back negative and then it was a tough few months for her to regain custody of her children.
According to WTVY, a judge handed down the sentence to Murrah after prosecutors said she had collected lab samples from individuals and had never forwarded them for testing and had instead falsified lab results. The district attorney for the 33rd Judicial Circuit District Court, Kirke Adams, said, "She has committed a fraud upon the whole court system. The worst part is for those who suffered because no one believed them—and she did not care," the Southeast Sun reported.
Dale County Department authorities revealed that it was impossible to know just how many test results Murrah had falsified. They added that they would use Murrah's lab as she was available around the clock. The authorities believe that she could have falsified the results as she owed the labs that tested the samples money for previous testing services.
Last week in court, Murrah's attorney David Harrison had said that his client should be allowed to serve out her sentence in a community corrections program or on probation because of health issues which would cost the system money. "If she’s incarcerated, who does it help? At the end of the day, I understand this woman affected peoples’ lives, but she has pleaded guilty and it is a slap in the face to justice not to give her probation."
In fact, Murrah’s current employers at a janitorial company testified that she was a hard worker and dependable. “Brandy cares a lot about people,” her employer said, according to The Southeast Sun. “She absolutely does care.” Adams argued that Murrah did not deserve any leniency. “She continues to blame everyone else,” he said.