Exonerated Texas woman pleads for help to get bullet out of her arm

A Copperas Cove woman is pleading for help to get a bullet out of her arm after being shot six times by an off-duty police officer during a road rage shooting. 

This isn’t LaCresha Murray’s first run-in with law enforcement. She was imprisoned at the age of 11.

"This world, somebody has to go through something, why not me, I’ll go through it, head up, chest out, let’s go if that’s what God wants me to go through," LaCresha Murray said.

Murray has the scars to prove it. She’s living with a bullet in her arm after being shot almost two years ago.

Murray said she has a lot of people against her, and it all started when she was 11 years old.

"It changed me completely because I was never able to be a child," Murray said.

In 1996, Murray was babysitting 2-year-old Jayla Belton when the child died. Austin police interrogated Murray, and at 11 years old, she became the youngest person to ever be charged with murder in Travis County.

"It was fixing to be my first year in middle school, but I never went, I went to jail, so I had to learn everything in jail, everything that a female’s supposed to learn as a child," Murray said.

She was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in a youth prison.

In 1996, Murray was babysitting 2-year-old Jayla Belton when the child died. Austin police interrogated Murray, and at 11 years old, she became the youngest person to ever be charged with murder in Travis County.

"At a certain facility that I was at, every day it was required to watch 15 minutes of news, every day, it was just a requirement, so every time you turned on the news, guess who was on there, me, so people were picking, fighting me, I was jumped by like 5 18-year-old girls," Murray said.

Just a couple of months after the conviction, Michael Lofton started a TV show to investigate the case.

"I saw a lot of things and I said something doesn’t seem right. And at that point, I said, you know what, at the end of the day when I looked at her, she reminded me of my daughter. My daughter was six at the time she was 11. It's about a five or six year gap depending on the month. And, and I said, you know what, I sit back, you know, and allow this to happen to my daughter and absolutely not, so I looked at her as my baby girl, you know, and I say, you know what, I'm not going to stand here and watch," Michael Lofton said.

Lofton said he presented the TV show to the Justice Department.

"I didn’t in depth know how much he was doing for me," Murray said.

The judge threw out the verdict and a second trial took place. That jury also found Murray guilty and sentenced her to 25 years in a youth prison. But, Lofton didn’t stop fighting.

"I kept saying this is my baby girl. This is my baby girl. So I'm going to do whatever it takes to get her out, so we got her out," Lofton said.

Michael Lofton pictured with Murray.

In 1999, Murray’s conviction was overturned. The judge determined police had illegally obtained a confession from her.

"I had already been in there 3 and half, 4 years already, so when I found out I called my grandmother on the phone, like a regular phone call you get in jail, and she was like someone is coming to get you, and I was like why would you play with me like that. She was like, no, for real," Murray said. "I was ecstatic, I was happy."

Murray walked out of the Texas Youth Commission at the age of 15.

"When I got out of prison, it was so big I had to change my name, I had to go to some private school because they didn’t think it was safe for me to go to public school at the time because I had just got out, my face was on every newspaper, I was being threatened, I had to wear a bulletproof vest," Murray said.

During the years that followed, Murray was arrested several more times.

"It’s still hard to get back to a normal life at the age I am today," Murray said.

About two years ago, she had another run in with law enforcement. Murray said she was driving home from the store in Copperas Cove, wasn't feeling well, and turned around to head to the hospital.

"I backed up into someone’s driveway to turn back around and go the opposite way and when I was trying to do that, the car, officer car was coming, I didn’t know he was an officer, but he was coming and kind of almost hit my truck but went around instead of letting me back all the way up and go, so when he did that, he got in front of me," Murray said.

Murray said he started slowing down, so she went around him.

"And then I stopped, and I got out of the car holding my stomach where my hernia is, where I have problems at, and then he just immediately pulled his gun and I put my hands up like this, and I walked back to my truck, and he just opened fire and walked me down shooting," Murray said.

Murray was shot six times. The shooter was off-duty officer Eric Stoneburner.

"Why do you think he shot at you," FOX 7 Austin reporter Meredith Aldis asked.

"Road rage," Murray said.

Stoneburner resigned after the incident. He was charged with aggravated assault.

Murray still has a bullet in her arm.

"Sometimes this arm will lock up like this and stay for a week and I can’t do anything, and it will loosen up eventually, it will swell up like this, it hurts," Murray said.

Murray was shot six times. The shooter was off-duty officer Eric Stoneburner. She believes the shooting was caused by road rage.

After hearing about what happened, Lofton, with the African American Youth Harvest Foundation, came back into Murray’s life.

"Her life has never been to the point where she can say she's back on the right track because what she’s been through 11 has followed her even up to this point and then this happening, how does one survive being shot six times and still have a straight face and to talk about it and, say it is what it is and why not me, like I say, she's tougher than me," Lofton said.

Lofton is trying to raise funds to get the bullet out of Murray’s arm and assist with housing, clothing, food, and education.

"I have a lot of people against me, and I deal with it, well by the grace of God, but personally I deal with it by myself, but when you get somebody or a few people, or an organization in your life that’s for you, that’s the best feeling in the world," Murray said.

Lofton said he wants to see Murray share her experiences and encourage youth in the community.

"She's very intelligent, she's very sharp, she's strong-minded and after going through what she's been through, I think she can tell a story that can help other folks that have gone through things," Lofton said.

Murray is suing the City of Copperas Cove and Eric Stoneburner.

To help Murray, click here.