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Assistant DAs accused of misleading in murder trial

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two Oklahoma County assistant district attorneys have been suspended while being investigated. They are facing serious allegations.

News Channel 4 has learned Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is investigating two of his own employees.

Sources close to the investigation say the two assistant district attorneys have been suspended for deliberately misleading the defense team during a murder trial back in early March.

The story begins in August of 2010 when a day of heavy drinking ended in murder.

Billy Michael Thompson got into a fight with a couple of drinking buddies outside his house on S. Stiles.

Thompson went into his house, brought out a machete and a kitchen knife.

Moments later Thompson fatally stabbed Manuel Leon Sanchez and critically injured Maxwell McIntyre.

Billy Michael Thompson was charged with murder and assault.

"I don't think he should be held for life. He was trying to defend himself and his family, too," Kimberly Thompson said. "That could have been anybody. It could have been the other way around."

Billy Thompson went to trial in March when the alleged misconduct occurred.

Prosecutors Pam Kimbrough and Stephanie Miller may have misled Thompson's public defender. We are told a prosecution witness changed his story from the time of the original police interview and this information was never disclosed.

Allegedly the pair also implied the witness was not available to come to court; the witness never testified.

A legal expert said this information could be important because Thompson claimed the stabbings were acts of self-defense.

"Upon further investigation through the district attorney's office at the request of Mr. Prater, they found that, in fact, he could have testified and his testimony may very well have been different than that which was presented to the jury through a stipulation."

The case went to the jury and within six hours they returned with a guilty verdict for the murder of Sanchez and the assault of McIntyre.

The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison.

While no one can say for sure if the witness' information would have changed the opinions of the jurors, Ford said they should have had the chance to hear it.

"That hurts the state's case because it goes against their theory of the case," Ford said. "So it would be exculpatory to Mr. Thompson. It could be." District Attorney David Prater gave us this statement:

"I can confirm we are conducting an investigation in alleged unethical behavior during trial. We take allegations involving misconduct very seriously and are taking appropriate action. As soon as we learned of the alleged misconduct we immediately notified the Oklahoma County Public Defender Bob Ravitz and the trial judge Don Deason."

Ravitz confirmed he was aware of the investigation and the District Attorney contacted him within minutes of learning about the investigation.

It will be Judge Deason's job to decide if Thompson will get a new trial. Thompson's formal sentencing is set for May 4.

Prater said he will issue a full statement next week when the investigation is complete.