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Murphy testifies in own defense

on May 03, 2013 10:50 AM

GREENSBURG (AP) — A Saltsburg-area man on trial in the killings of his mother, sister and elderly aunt testified Thursday that the deaths left him so emotionally distraught that when questioned about them he forgot he had a girlfriend — a woman prosecutors contend his family didn’t approve of.

Kevin Murphy acknowledged his statement wasn’t true under cross-examination by Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck. Murphy explained he was so shaken by the killings he simply forgot about his romantic relationship when questioned on April 23, 2009 — the day his relatives’ bodies were found inside his auto glass shop.

Peck raised the question to suggest Murphy avoided mentioning his girlfriend because she was the motivation for Murphy to kill his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81.

Murphy has denied the killings, but Peck contends Murphy shot his relatives because they disapproved of his relationship with the married woman.

In his opening statement last week, Peck told the jury that Murphy’s girlfriend “basically gave him an ultimatum which the defendant carried out” by killing the women.

Peck contends Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, 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 in a supermarket parking lot miles away before his girlfriend drove to work in Pittsburgh.

Under cross-examination, Murphy acknowledged meeting the woman the morning of the murders, too, though Murphy had also denied that when questioned by police.

A state police criminal complaint affidavit said Murphy’s girlfriend hadn’t met his family, but Peck has told the jury she moved in with Murphy a day or so after the killings.

Murphy testified that he didn’t bring a gun to the shop days before the killings and then denied he claimed to have shot at robins with it merely to establish an alibi.

Murphy’s attorneys contend he has a phobia about birds since one got tangled in his hair as a child. That prompted Peck to ask Murphy why he waited for years then shot at birds the same day his three closest relatives were found shot to death, lying side-by-side in his Loyalhanna Township glass shop.

A jury was to hear closing arguments today, the 10th day of the trial. If Murphy is convicted of first-degree murder for any of the killings, the same jury will then hear more evidence and arguments before determining whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

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