OZARK, Ala. — The former owner of an Alabama testing lab was sentenced to prison last week for falsifying drug test results that prosecutors say cost multiple parents custody of their children.
Brandy Murrah, 37, was sentenced on Nov. 12 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in September to one felony charge of perjury and 16 misdemeanor counts of forgery, the Dothan Eagle reported.
Before her sentencing, Murrah admitted wrongdoing to Judge William Filmore and apologized for the hurt she caused others.
“I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my life,” Murrah told the court. “I’m sorry for anyone I ever hurt. I really did not do this intentionally to ever hurt anyone.”
Murrah was arrested by Ozark police in 2019 on charges she falsified the results of drug screenings handled by her lab, A&J Lab Collections, which was providing drug-screen reports and paternity tests to the Dale County Department of Human Resources.
The perjury charge came out of a court hearing where Murrah testified about the drug test results on a father who was trying to retain custody of his children. The forgery charges stem from falsified reports that had never actually been processed and confirmed by the doctor listed, Dothan Eagle reported.
Jennifer Severs of Troy was in a custody battle with her ex-husband when Murrah collected hair follicle samples for drug screenings on the family as part of the custody case. The test showed Severs was positive for drugs even though Severs said she doesn’t use any drugs. Additional tests were negative, but Severs said it still took months before she was finally reunited with her children because the Department of Human Resources used the original test results. It was Severs who actually contacted a doctor listed on Murrah’s report only to learn that the doctor had never done the screening. She then contacted the Ozark Police Department.
Severs said the experience scarred both her and her children, according to the report.
“This is a daily battle for me on who I can trust,” she said. “This is a daily battle for my children.”
Another case occurred In 2017. Grace Locke of Newton had her two children taken from her due to her drug use. She eventually entered rehab following an arrest. By 2019, Locke said she was clean and wanted to be reunited with her two older children after giving birth to her third child. But when she met with her case workers from the Department of Human Resources in Dale County to talk about a plan to regain custody, she received the news that her latest drug test had come back positive for methamphetamine and her baby’s test showed exposure. Her 3-month-old baby was taken from her during the meeting, Dothan Eagle reported.
“It was terrible,” Locke told the court Thursday. “I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest because I knew I was doing right with this one. I knew I was doing right.”
She was tested again with negative results, but her baby was taken away from her for nearly three weeks.
“I don’t understand why anybody would ever do that to any family, any children, for no reason,” Locke said.
District Attorney Kirke Adams said Murrah should go to prison for the suffering she caused, although her motivation was not revealed.
“She has committed a fraud upon the whole court system,” Adams said.