Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Alana Williams listens as her mother, Debra Brown, talks about her life since being released from prison after serving 17 years on June 1, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's office filed an appeal Tuesday with the Utah State Supreme Court, challenging the "factual innocence" ruling of Debra Brown. 

Brown was deemed factually innocent in May after serving 17 years in prison for the 1995 murder of her friend and employer Lael Brown. Her case was the first of its kind after a 2008 change to the state statute that allows individuals to challenge their convictions when new evidence is discovered.

In the 150-page brief filed Tuesday, the state argues that the judge who granted Brown her freedom did so erroneously, basing his decision on existing evidence that does not apply under the guidelines of the factual innocence statute. The attorney general also argues that Brown did not demonstrate her innocence by clear and convincing evidence.

The attorney general's office had previously given notice that it planned to appeal and in June filed a 65-page document with the high court, providing background on the Brown case.

Debra Brown was convicted after finding the body of Lael Brown with gunshot wounds to the head. At her evidentiary hearing, witnesses reported seeing Lael Brown alive during the day, when it was believed he had died, moving the time of his murder to a period when Debra Brown's whereabouts were accounted for.

She was declared factually innocent by 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda.

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