Jury convicts Murphy in triple murders at Loyalhanna business
Westmoreland County jurors convicted on Friday convicted a Loyalhanna Township businessman of executing his mother, sister and aunt four years ago — but Kevin Murphy plans to ask a jury to spare his life.
The trial jury of eight men and four women deliberated for 3 1⁄2 hours before finding him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, fired a .22-caliber revolver into the back of the heads of his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and aunt, Edith Tietge, 81. Their bodies were discovered in the shop area of Murphy's business, Ferguson Glass, on April 23, 2009.
He showed no emotion as the jury foreman announced the verdict after 10 days of testimony before Common Pleas Judge Al Bell.
The prosecution contended Murphy killed his relatives so he could move his soon-to-be-divorced girlfriend into the home near Saltsburg that he shared with his mother and sister.
“Naturally, we're disappointed. Kevin is somebody who I thought had a very good defense. We're surprised at how fast the jury came back,” defense attorney Bob Bell said.
Murphy's two uncles, an aunt and family friends left the courthouse without comment.
The jury will return on Monday, when District Attorney John Peck will argue that Murphy should be put to death. He declined to comment after the verdict.
Bell said the defense team will spend the weekend preparing evidence of mitigating circumstances that could convince jurors to sentence Murphy to life in prison.
In a closing argument, Peck told jurors that Murphy had the motive, means and opportunity to kill the victims.
A series of witnesses, Murphy's own statements to police and testimony from a jailhouse informant placed Murphy at the crime scene.
Peck told jurors that Murphy killed his mother first and then killed his sister when she walked into the shop. Peck said Murphy killed his Aunt Edie because she returned to the shop and saw the other victims.
“The person who brought them into the garage is someone they knew, someone they trusted, someone they thought loved them as a son, a brother and a nephew,” Peck told jurors.
Murphy wanted to “knock off” the victims because they objected to his relationship with Susan McGuire, who received divorce papers from her husband on the day of the murders, according to testimony.
A day after the shooting, McGuire moved into Murphy's home. Four months later, he bought her a $14,000 ring, and they became engaged.
John Meighan, who was facing drunken driving charges when he befriended Murphy in prison, testified Murphy said that McGuire put him up to the murders. McGuire has not been charged.
She is running Murphy's business with her live-in boyfriend, Donald Shondelmyer, Murphy's lifelong friend who worked with him at Ferguson Glass.
“When you look at the facts, it's inconceivable anyone else but the defendant committed these crimes,” Peck told jurors.
During his closing argument, defense attorney Mark Bolkovac deflected blame toward McGuire and Shondelmyer, saying they had motive and opportunity to commit the murders.
“I'm not saying they did this. But I'm saying you can find motive in many places,” Bolkovac told jurors.
Murphy testified he was across the road, feeding cows at his uncle's farm, when the women were killed.
He explained that his DNA was on the murder weapon because he used it earlier that day to shoot at a nesting robin outside the shop. Murphy testified he was “deathly afraid” of birds since he was attacked by one as a teenager.
The prosecution argued Murphy staged the bird shooting in an attempt cover up his role in the murders.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hays ‘eagle cams’ reinstalled for 2015 nesting season
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Penguins’ Crosby details his mumps experience
- West Virginia offensive coordinator takes job with Kentucky
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Ligonier man’s sentences for slayings upheld
- Arnold Stop-n-Go robbed
- Auditions for Broadway’s Carole King musical coming to Pittsburgh
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Judge dismisses littering charge against City Council president Kraus