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Murphy found guilty in glass shop killings

on May 04, 2013 11:00 AM

GREENSBURG (AP) — A jury found Kevin Murphy guilty Friday of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother, sister and elderly aunt in his automotive glass shop near Saltsburg in 2009.

Jurors deliberated just a few hours before returning their verdict against Murphy, of Conemaugh Township. They will return to the Westmoreland County courtroom Monday to begin the penalty phase of the trial, when they must choose between the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Murphy was convicted of killing his mother, 69-year-old Doris Murphy; his 43-year-old sister, Kris Murphy; and his aunt, 81-year-old Edith Tietge, in April 2009 at the shop in Loyalhanna Township, Westmoreland County.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck argued during the 10-day trial that Murphy killed the women because they disapproved of his relationship with the still-married woman who later became his fiancee, Susan McGuire. Peck told the jury in opening statements last week that McGuire “basically gave him an ultimatum, which the defendant carried out” by killing the women.

Peck contends Murphy, 52, wanted to salvage his 18-month relationship with the woman, who was getting divorced. Because she was still married and Murphy’s family didn’t approve, Peck said, the couple had been meeting before dawn each morning at a supermarket parking lot before McGuire drove to work in Pittsburgh.

McGuire moved in with Murphy a day or two after the killings on April 23, 2009.

“He doesn’t have what makes people truly happy in life,” Peck told the jury, explaining that Murphy had never been married or had children. “And he wanted that.”

But defense attorney Mark Bolkovac suggested his client’s ex-fiancee and another friend who now run the business had a motive to kill the women.

He noted that McGuire is now living with Murphy’s friend and employee at the time of the killing, Donald Shondelmyer. Neither has ever been named as a suspect, let alone charged in the killings.

“I’m not saying they did this. But I’m saying you can find motive in many places,” Bolkovac said.

He argued that Murphy was helping an uncle with chores on a nearby farm when the killings occurred.

But Peck said the women — who were found slain, side-by-side in the business where each helped Murphy — were obviously killed by someone they trusted. All three women were shot in the back of the head.

Murphy’s attorneys had argued that their client brought a gun to his shop shortly before the killings to shoot birds. They claim Murphy has had a phobia about birds since childhood.

But Peck argued the bird story was a ruse concocted by Murphy after he was charged with the killings.

“It’s inconceivable that anyone else committed this homicide,” he said.

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