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Murphy sentenced to death for trio of homicides

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:24 p.m.
 

A Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday sentenced Kevin Murphy to death for fatally shooting his mother, sister and aunt four years ago.

Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Doris Murphy, 69, Kris Murphy, 43, and Edith Tietge, 81.

The victims' bodies were found at their place of employment, Ferguson Glass, the Loyalhanna Township auto-glass business that Murphy owned.

Jurors deliberated for more than seven hours before announcing the sentence in the courtroom of Judge Al Bell.

Murphy fired bullets from a .22-caliber revolver into the victims' heads because he needed to “knock off” his mother and sister and then needed to kill his aunt after she walked in on the murders sometime after the shop closed on April 23, 2009, according to trial testimony.

Murphy's mother and sister lived with him at his home near Saltsburg, but he needed them out of the way to move his girlfriend into the house, according to the prosecution.

District Attorney John Peck argued for the death sentence for Murphy on behalf of the victims.

“He used the love they had for him to lure them into Ferguson Glass and, like a coward, to shoot them in the back of the head,” Peck told jurors.

Defense attorney Robert Bell argued that Murphy's age, his lack of a prior criminal record and good character warranted sparing his life.

“The death penalty should be reserved for people who are always in trouble, not a businessman who spent his whole life abiding the law,” Bell said.

Seven defense witnesses took the stand Tuesday during the brief penalty phase of the trial.

Uncle Roy “Sonny” Martin, the brother of Doris Murphy and Tietge, testified on behalf of his nephew. “He was protective of his family,” Martin insisted.

Martin, who had gone to an auction that day, found the victims' bodies. He previously testified that Murphy was feeding cows at Martin's farm, across the road from the glass business, when the victims were killed.

Another uncle of Murphy's, Paul Martin, testified his nephew was never in trouble as a child or an adult.

“I don't even know if he had a parking ticket,” Paul Martin told jurors.

Jean Bash of Loyalhanna, a friend of the Murphy family, testified, “I never saw any anger issues. I never saw him disagree with his family.”

The prosecution presented no witnesses to support the death penalty.

“His character witnesses don't mitigate this crime. They only make it more horrific. This defendant had all the opportunities,” Peck told jurors.

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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