Woman whose conviction was reversed in Eudora day care death seeks formal exoneration, damages for wrongful imprisonment

photo by: Contributed

Carrody Buchhorn

Now that her conviction has been reversed, a Douglas County woman who was accused of killing a baby in 2016 at a Eudora day care is seeking nearly $400,000 from the state of Kansas and a formal exoneration, according to court documents.

In her petition, which was filed on Feb. 3, Carrody Buchhorn is seeking $368,986 in damages and $25,000 in attorney fees under a Kansas statute that is intended to provide relief “for persons who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.” Under the statute, people are entitled to $65,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment, and the petition states that Buchhorn was on house arrest or in the Douglas County Jail or the Topeka Correctional Facility for a total of 2,072 days, or more than 5 1/2 years.

On Friday, one of Buchhorn’s attorneys, Quentin Templeton, told the Journal-World that the money was important, but that Buchhorn was also seeking a certificate of innocence that would effectively expunge the arrest and conviction from her record entirely.

William Skepnek, the Lawrence-based attorney who has successfully argued her appeals, told the Journal-World that, unlike a typical lawsuit, the petition was not specifically targeting anyone. He said it was simply a request for judgment from the court, and that it will be up to a Douglas County judge to determine whether Buchhorn is entitled to relief.

Buchhorn, 48, was convicted in 2018 of the murder of 9-month-old Oliver “Ollie” Ortiz, who was found unresponsive at a Eudora day care on Sept. 29, 2016. However, the Kansas Court of Appeals later determined that her trial attorneys were ineffective, and the Kansas Supreme Court let the ruling reversing her conviction stand in August 2022. Among other things, the appellate court said Buchhorn’s attorneys failed to properly question a coroner’s ruling on how the boy died.

After the reversal, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office said it would attempt to prosecute Buchhorn’s case again. However, the new case was dismissed by a Douglas County District Court judge in December 2022 because of the prosecution’s difficulty in finding a new forensic pathology expert, and in January 2023 the DA’s office announced that it would “cease prosecution” due to a lack of evidence.

In a news release in January, District Attorney Suzanne Valdez said that the forensic pathologist her office had retained in the case concluded that Oliver “died from natural disease and pathophysiologic processes unrelated to child abuse.”

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which handles wrongful conviction and imprisonment cases, is allowed to argue against the petition for relief. However, as of Friday afternoon, Skepnek said there was no formal response from the office yet. Normally, the office is required to respond within three weeks of a petition’s filing, but Skepnek said the office had asked him for extra time, and he agreed. He said the state’s response is now expected by May 3.

Skepnek said he believed there was enough evidence to prove Buchhorn’s innocence, and that he’s “crossing his fingers” the AG’s office will choose not to contest the petition.

Buchhorn’s petition:

If unable to view document below, click here to download PDF file.


More coverage: Carrody Buchhorn case

January 26, 2023: ‘Finally’: Lawrence woman accused in day care death added to National Registry of Exonerations

January 4, 2023: Citing lack of evidence, DA’s office will ‘cease prosecution’ against woman in Eudora day care death; she tells Journal-World she’s ‘in shock’

December 19, 2022: ‘I would never, ever, ever harm a child’: Woman whose murder case was dismissed discusses ordeal as possible retrial looms

Decmber 16, 2022: Court dismisses case against woman accused of killing baby, citing Douglas County DA’s failure to produce expert

December 2, 2022: State has new expert witness in Eudora day care death

Nvember 14, 2022: Woman accused of killing baby at Eudora day care will get a new preliminary hearing but won’t be released from house arrest

November 1, 2022: Woman accused of killing baby at day care renews plea for freedom as she faces 2nd trial

October 5, 2022: New trial date set for woman previously convicted of murder at Eudora day care; defense attorney wants fresh determination of probable cause

September 23, 2022: Kansas Supreme Court denies motion to rehear Eudora murder case; state says ‘tie vote’ was denial of justice

August 19, 2022: With 6 Kansas Supreme Court justices equally divided, reversal of murder conviction in Eudora day care case stands; DA says case will be re-prosecuted


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