Krystal O’Connell lost her 17-month-old son in accidental death while cared for by a babysitter,
then suffered the additional trauma of wrongful imprisonment
DENVER – An Alamosa County woman who was wrongly imprisoned for a decade after her infant died in an accident, today filed a suit in federal court against the cop and caseworker who allegedly framed her for murder.
In 2003, Krystal O’Connell left her toddler in the care of a babysitter. The child accidentally fell and hit his head while playing with the babysitter, resulting in fatal brain injuries. However, Ms. O’Connell was accused of killing her own child. Former Alamosa County Sheriff’s Department sergeant Harry Alejo and Alamosa Department of Human Services caseworker Marcia Tuggle allegedly fabricated a false confession from O’Connell and withheld evidence that would have helped clear O’Connell of criminal suspicion.
Alejo also fabricated additional false evidence by manipulating a key witness—the babysitter—into making false, inculpatory statements against Ms. O’Connell. As a result of their misconduct, Ms. O’Connell (then known as Krystal Voss) was wrongfully convicted of murder and child abuse and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Ms. O’Connell spent 10 years in the prime of her life in prison and several more years on electronic monitoring. Last year, Ms. O’Connell’s conviction was vacated, the charges against her were dismissed, and she was finally exonerated
“It was a traumatizing, nightmarish experience for Ms. O’Connell to have her child hospitalized in a coma after this accident,” said one of her attorneys, Elizabeth Wang of Loevy & Loevy, Attorneys at Law. “After several sleepless days and nights, Officer Alejo browbeat the disoriented woman, concocted a false statement for her to sign, and fabricated police reports falsely claiming that she had confessed.”
Besides Ms. Wang, Mr. O’Connell is also represented in her suit by Attorney Daniel Twetten, also of Loevy & Loevy. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, with offices in Boulder and Chicago. Over the past decade, Loevy & Loevy has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Krystal O’Connell v. Alamosa County, et al., No. 18 CV 1359, is available here.