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Murphy jurors hear 2 versions of triple homicide

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:09 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Judge Al Bell awaits the arrival of the jury during a site visit to Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna Township on April 22, 2013.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Kevin Murphy is led into the Westmoreland County Courthouse by Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held (left) on April 22, 2013. Murphy is charged with murdering his mother, sister and elderly aunt.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Trooper Robert DePew gives members of the media a tour of Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna Township on Monday, April 22, 2013.

Jurors stood in a large garage bay Monday afternoon in a Loyalhanna glass shop where three women were found in a pool of blood after they were killed by bullets fired into the backs of their heads four years ago.

The site view was the first piece of evidence jurors received in the triple-homicide case of Kevin Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County.

He is accused of shooting his mother, sister and aunt, execution style, on April 23, 2009.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck will seek the death penalty against Murphy if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Murphy's mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and aunt, Edith Tietge, 81, were found by Murphy and an uncle in the garage bay at Ferguson Glass.

Jurors boarded a bus shortly after lunch and were taken on the 15-mile drive from the courthouse in Greensburg to where the bodies were discovered, at the rural business flanked by Loyalhanna Dam.

State police Trooper Robert DePew pointed out 15 different locations at the business and a neighboring farm for the jurors and Judge Al Bell.

Jurors saw the small, wood-trimmed business office, the garage bay and locations where prosecutors allege that Murphy stored and later hid the murder weapon.

In addition, DePew pointed out an outside area near a chicken coop where, Murphy claimed, he used his gun hours before the murder to shoot at birds because he was deathly afraid of them.

The jury was then led about 900 yards across the street and down a gravel path to a barn where Murphy claimed he was feeding cows when his family was slain.

Murphy, who has been in jail since his arrest exactly one year after the murders, did not attend the viewing.

His lawyers said Murphy opted to remain in jail rather than travel to his former business.

In his opening statement to the jury, Peck said Murphy killed his relatives to take his romantic relationship with a married woman to a new level.

All he had to do was kill his mother, his sister and aunt, Peck told the jury.

Peck told the jury Murphy killed the three women at the behest of his girlfriend, according to Murphy's former cellmate at the county jail. The three women disapproved of the relationship. Murphy's girlfriend has not been charged in the victims' deaths, Peck said.

“Never in their wildest dreams did they think they would be killed by their son, brother and nephew,” Peck said. “It was the defendant and only the defendant who killed his mother, Doris Murphy, his sister, Kris Murphy and his aunt, Edith Tietge.”

Defense attorney Robert Bell, in a 15-minute opening statement, described Murphy as a successful businessman who loved his family and cared for them.

“Kevin Murphy's defense is he wasn't there. Somebody else killed his mother, sister and aunt, “ Bell told jurors.

Testimony will resume this morning in Bell's courtroom.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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