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Murphy trial jurors view photographs of 3 murder victims

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:21 p.m.
 

The gun that Kevin Murphy allegedly used to kill his relatives four years ago was brought into the family business by his sister just days before her murder, an employee testified Tuesday.

Donald Shondlemyer testified Tuesday in Murphy's triple-murder trial that Kris Murphy carried the .22-caliber Magnum revolver in a plastic bin to the Ferguson Glass office so her uncle could shoot a trapped raccoon on a neighboring farm.

Kevin Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, is on trial for allegedly killing his sister, their mother, 69-year-old Doris Murphy and their aunt Edith Tietge, 81, on April 23, 2009, in the work garage at the Loyalhanna Township business.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty against Kevin Murphy, who allegedly shot the women at their workplace because they did not approve of his affair with a married woman.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck asked Shondlemyer if he had ever seen the gun before or after Kris Murphy brought it into the shop.

“Kris put it in the storage room,” Shondlemyer testified.

Peck asked what then happened to the weapon.

“I have no idea,” Shondlemyer replied.

Police contend that the weapon was used to kill at least two of the victims, according to testimony. Hours after the bodies were discovered, police found the gun at the bottom of a catch basin under a belt sander in the work garage.

Shondlemyer testified for about an hour as he described his relationship with Murphy and their work schedule on the day of the murders. He is expected to return to the witness stand Wednesday morning to answer more questions from Peck before the witness is cross-examined in the trial before Judge Al Bell.

Shondlemyer and Murphy had been friends since elementary school, the witness testified. They worked together when Shondlemyer's family owned Ferguson Glass in New Kensington and after Murphy purchased the business in 2000 and moved it to Loyalhanna Township, Shondlemyer said.

On the day of the murders, Shondlemyer and Murphy went out on several jobs and returned together back to the shop at the end of the work day. Shondlemyer testified he went home shortly before 4 p.m. Murphy and the three women were still inside.

Shondlemyer said he made sure a back door to the garage was locked before he left. “Every time I'd go in and out of it, I'd lock it,” he said.

Photographs of the crime scene show that door propped open with a box. They were among photos displayed for jurors on a television screen Tuesday.

There were no signs of forced entry into the building, state police Trooper Brian Kendgia testified.

Police initially investigated the case as a robbery. “We didn't know what we had,” Kendgia told jurors. “It could have been anything.”

Police found Doris Murphy's purse, containing $465 in cash and her credit cards, in the office. A tray of money was discovered on the office floor, Kendgia testified.

Jurors saw a photograph of a .22-caliber Magnum revolver, placed upside down under a belt sander in the shop. Kendgia said police found the clear plastic storage container with ammunition for the revolver and an instruction manual for the gun.

Earlier, Murphy stared straight ahead and never looked at the images of his mother, sister and aunt's bodies as they were displayed in photographs on the large, high-definition television perched over his right shoulder.

Each of the victims had been shot in the head, according to police.

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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