Michael Day

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Date of Alleged Crime:  August 10, 1994

Michael Day was convicted of the rape and murder of his three-year-old daughter, Tequyla Pierce Day. On the night of her death, Michael’s wife, DeAnndra Day, called 911 and reported that she found Tequyla face down in the bathtub. She was not breathing. When paramedics arrived they found Michael, wrapped in a bed sheet at the waist, incorrectly attempting to perform CPR on Tequyla. Michael’s naked body was exposed when the sheet was taken to wipe vomit from Tequyla’s face. Michael said he had genital herpes and had not been wearing underwear to speed up the healing process. The initial autopsy report, completed by forensic pathologist Dr. Shakir, said that Tequyla died as a result of severe brain edema due to meningitis with drowning as a contributory cause.
Michael’s convictions were based on the prosecution theory that Tequyla died due to compression to her chest during a sexual assault. Autopsy photographs supposedly displayed vaginal and rectal tears. Dr. Mary Carrasco testified that Tequyla’s death could have been caused by sexual intercourse but the injuries were not necessarily caused by a penis. Dr. Lucy Rorke said she could not make a determination of sexual assault, despite indicating that was her opinion. Both doctors were admitted as experts in court even though neither participated in the autopsy or was a certified forensic pathologist.
At trial DeAnndra testified that her daughter received injuries prior to her death. While playing in the basement, Tequyla fell twice, receiving a minor bump to the back of the head and a large knot on her forehead. After leaving the witness stand, DeAnndra became overridden with guilt and told her husband’s lawyer that she was responsible for Tequyla’s death. This confession was reported to the judge, but withheld during the trial.
DeAnndra has continued to assert responsibility. “The bruises came from me,” she said. “I was hittin’ her in her butt area and everything; I had her bent over my knee and I was spankin’, givin’ her a beatin’; how long I don’t know; I just blacked out.” In a 1995 letter to Michael, DeAnndra said, “Why did I lose it like that? I never meant to hurt my baby girl. I don’t understand what went wrong with me.”
Michael appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and was denied a new trial on the basis that his wife’s confessions did not match the experts’ forensic descriptions of the account of death given by the two doctors who are not forensic pathologists. Day’s defense has since retained consulting forensic pathologist, Dr. Karl Williams, who voiced surprise at the lack of testimony from a forensic pathologist during trial.
“I don’t believe it happened the way the Commonwealth is saying,” Williams said. He argued there was no proof of a rectal tear in the autopsy report and photographs used as evidence during the trial. The experts’ testimonies stated a rectal tear was not only present but was significant enough to prove that the child had been anally penetrated by a blunt object such as the father’s penis. Williams said the accounts of DeAnndra’s confession matched more closely than the stories told by the prosecution.  [12/11]


Reference:  Innocence Institute

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Western Pennsylvania Cases, Son/Daughter Murder Cases