Tyra Patterson didn’t carry the gun, she didn’t pull the trigger, and her co-defendants insisted she played no part in the 1994 shooting death of 15-year old Michelle Lai in Dayton, Ohio. But police coerced a false confession out of the teenager, who did not know how to read or write at the time of her arrest. In 1995, she was convicted of murder and robbery and sentenced to 43 years-to-life at the age of 19.
In 2012, Ohio prosecutors knew 15-year-old Alexis Martin wasn't in the room when shots were fired, maiming one man and killing another, her sex trafficker. They still charged her with murder and demanded that she be tried as an adult. She ultimately received a life sentence. Both Tyra and Alexis were teenagers at the time of their arrests—nearly 20 years apart. When Tyra is finally paroled in 2017 after spending 23 years in prison, coming home is bittersweet. Is she really "free"? How can she help Alexis?
I Am Tyra, shot over a period of almost 8 years, explores the hidden struggles of life after prison for wrongfully convicted women. The bond between Tyra and Alexis represents the possibility and power of peer-to-peer relationships amongst justice-involved individuals.
Through Tyra and Alexis’s stories, I Am Tyra offers a much-needed female perspective from within America’s dysfunctional justice system and sheds light on systemic issues through first-hand experiences. The series offers an on-the-ground look at everyday fights led by returning citizens in an often unwelcoming free world.