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Uncle says Murphy was 'shook up' when bodies were found in shop

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 12:33 p.m.

Kevin Murphy was “a basket case” after the bodies of his mother, sister and aunt were discovered in the garage of the family-owned business four years ago, his uncle testified Tuesday.

Roy Martin, 72, told a Westmoreland County jury that Murphy was so “shook up” that he was shaking and unable to talk when the victims were found at Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna Township on April 23, 2009.

Each of the women had been fatally shot in the head.

Martin, known as “Uncle Sonny,” said he found the victims and then called for Murphy, who was walking to the shop from Martin's farm across Loyalhanna Dam Road.

“I thought he would help. But he didn't. He was so upset he wasn't able to help,” Martin said.

Martin was unclear on the time he discovered the bodies of his two sisters, Doris Murphy, 69, and Edith Tietge, 81, and his niece, Kris Murphy, 43.

He was called as the first witness for the defense in the capital murder trial of Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County.

District Attorney John Peck contends Murphy killed the women at the behest of his girlfriend, who was getting a divorce and wanted to move into the family home Murphy shared with his mother and sister near Saltsburg. They did not approve of his relationship with the married woman, prosecution witnesses testified.

A former fellow inmate of Murphy's previously testified that Murphy met with his girlfriend on the morning of the murders and she advised him to “knock off” the victims and to fake a “panic attack” over the killings.

Peck will seek the death penalty if jurors convict Muphy of first-degree murder.

Murphy maintains he is not the killer.

He claims that he was feeding cows at Martin's farm when the women were killed.

Martin testified he returned home sometime after 4 p.m. that day after attending a cow auction and found Murphy almost finished feeding his cattle. The feeding process can take up to 90 minutes for his herd of “upwards of 50 head,” Martin told jurors.

Peck questioned Martin about a .22-caliber revolver that had been brought to the shop.

Martin denied that Murphy needed the gun to help Martin kill a raccoon on the property. Martin testified he made no such request and used his own rifle to shoot the raccoon.

“Nobody knew I killed the raccoon,” Martin said.

John Kravetsky, owner of Lifestat Ambulance Service in Saltsburg, testified Murphy was “very nervous and pretty much out of control” when paramedics arrived at the murder scene.

Kravetsky said Murphy's behavior prompted paramedics to sedate him and take him to a Greensburg hospital for observation.

During cross-examination from Peck, Kravetsky testified Murphy was able to communicate with paramedics and alerted them that there was a gun in the building. Murphy walked to a storage room where he claimed he kept the weapon.

“He went over and said, 'It's not there,'” Kravetsky testified.

Police later found the gun at the bottom of a catch basin below a belt sander in a back corner of the garage. A ballistics expert said bullet fragments found in Doris Murphy were too damaged to link to that weapon, but bullets removed from the other victims matched that gun.

The defense will continue its case Wednesday morning before Judge Al Bell.

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

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