Longform

Molly Midyette, a mother sentenced to sixteen years for the death of her son, speaks out

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Earlier this year, Ruttenberg and Carberry filed a 129-page "supplemental motion" that expanded on the allegations of abuse and manipulation that Truman had first brought up in his pleading two years ago. They argued that McCormick had violated Molly's right to a fair trial by never disclosing to the court that he was representing both parents when their cases were sometimes at odds, and by continuing his lawyer-client relationship with Molly to her detriment at trial. Ruttenberg and Carberry also charged that Truman hadn't properly defended Molly, and that he didn't do nearly as much work as suggested by the $266,000 he'd billed for his services. Truman had failed to thoroughly look into Molly's allegations against her husband after the St. Patrick's Day incident, they claimed, had failed to call witnesses or prepare much evidence to counter the prosecution's case, and had failed to ever discuss with the DA's office the possibility of a deal in exchange for Molly's testifying against Alex.

"He is a good lawyer. But he was not a good lawyer for Molly," Molly's father says of Truman. "He had ten trials that year, and this was his tenth. So he was tired. He was not up to this. I wish I had realized it sooner."

The medical evidence suggested that "Alex Midyette dropped baby Jason on the floor while baby Jason was in his care," Ruttenberg and Carberry concluded, arguing that Molly should not be held liable for what happened, since she'd been at work. And even if there were indications of previous injuries, as some medical experts had testified, they were so minor that not even Jason's pediatrician had noticed them during weekly checkups.

Today, Molly not only believes that Alex was responsible for Jason's death, but that he told his father what happened. And that McCormick, her onetime friend and mentor, knows the truth, too.

"I believe that Paul knows what happened to Jason," she says. "I believe Alex told him. I believe he always knew, and he did everything he could so I didn't find out."

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True to their original strategy, the Mid-yettes have never responded to the allegations put forward by Molly's lawyers since her trial. Until now.

"This has been devastating for the Midyette family," says Daniel Recht, the prominent Denver defense attorney recently retained by Alex and his father. "The loss of Jason was devastating, having Alex go to prison was devastating, and now having Molly lie about what happened has been the last straw on the camel's back and has been terribly devastating." That's why they're finally ready to talk — through their lawyer.

"Of the allegations I was aware of and the new allegations I was not aware of, there is no proof to any of it other than Molly is saying it," says Recht. And Molly's story should be taken with more than a grain of salt, he suggests. To prove it, he plays audio snippets of conversations that Molly had with visitors and over the phone while she was in Boulder County Jail. The jail records all inmate conversations that don't involve their lawyers — and these conversations, Recht says, contradict Molly's current version of events.

Take her claim that immediately after her trial, she finally felt free from Alex and his family's control: In audio clips that Recht says span the two weeks after her conviction, Molly is heard repeatedly and emotionally professing her love to Alex during his visits and asks him to take care of her family. In a recording made the day after her conviction, her parents ask if she has any messages she wants them to give Alex. "Just tell him that I love him," she says, sounding like she's crying.

And while the day after her conviction Molly says she told Truman that "there was so much that I couldn't tell you," a week after her conviction she said this to her parents: "I told the truth on the stand. I told you my version of events. I never saw anything. I didn't believe he did anything. You know, we have medical evidence to prove that he didn't. I don't know why that's not presented."

A few days later, when Molly talked with her parents about how experts from the Kempe Center for Prevention of Child Abuse had suggested that Molly was protecting Alex by not revealing everything she knew, she told them, "It's just crazy to me that people would think that one, I wouldn't tell them if I knew, and that two, I would, when facing jail time, not say anything.... You know, the Kempe Center people thought that I was, you know, protecting him and all, and I'm like, 'Obviously you don't know me.'"

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner