Triple murder trial of Indiana County man to open
Jurors on Monday will get a firsthand look at the Loyalhanna Township glass shop where the bodies of three women were found shot to death four years ago.
Attorneys will deliver opening remarks on Monday morning in the trial of Kevin Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his mother, sister and aunt on April 23, 2009.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck will seek the death penalty against Murphy, who was arrested on the one-year anniversary of the killings, should jurors find him guilty of first-degree murder.
On Monday, jurors will board a bus after lunch for the 30-minute drive to view the secluded, wooded area where the Murphy family made its living at Ferguson Glass LLC on 11 acres along Loyalhanna Dam Road. The business repaired auto glass and did specialty work for clients such as Amish craftsmen, Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, St. Vincent College and The Kiski School, a nearby private college preparatory school.
Judge Al Bell said that jurors will tour the business office, the garage shop area and a storage room. They will have a chance to see a belt sander in the shop, where the murder weapon, a .22-caliber Magnum revolver, was found by state police.
Jurors will view a barn on a nearby property owned by Murphy's uncle, Ray Martin, Bell said.
Prosecutors believe Murphy was the man who executed his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81. Tietge lived with her brother, Martin.
Defense attorneys Bob Bell and Mark Bolkovac contend police arrested the wrong man.
All three victims were shot in the head. Doris Murphy suffered three bullet wounds. Her daughter was shot twice. The killer shot Tietge once.
Judge John Blahovec previously denied a defense request to prevent Peck from presenting to the jurors blood, DNA and gunshot residue evidence. The specifics of that evidence have yet to be revealed.
After the bodies were discovered, Kevin Murphy was hospitalized with a panic attack. Later, he spoke to police and said he used the handgun on the day of the killings to shoot at a bird.
Kevin Murphy claimed he was at his uncle's farm, feeding cows, as the fatal shots felled the three women early in the evening, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing.
Kevin Murphy lived with his mother and sister in a tidy house on Leech Avenue near Saltsburg. He has filed routine court documents to claim their estate, valued at more than $315,000 at the time of the filing. Neither left a will.
Testimony from Kevin Murphy's former cellmate at the county jail was used during a preliminary hearing to link him to the killings.
John Meighan, 50, formerly of Greensburg, who is awaiting trial on drunken-driving offenses, testified that Kevin Murphy claimed he killed his relatives at the behest of his girlfriend. Kevin Murphy killed them because they disapproved of his relationship with a married woman, who told him to “knock off” his family, according to hearing testimony. The woman has not been charged.
Meighan claimed Kevin Murphy hid the .22-calber handgun in the base of the sanding machine.
Meighan's testimony could be integral for the prosecution during the upcoming trial, which could take about three weeks.
Prospective jurors were asked during last week's selection process about their views of defendants who exchange testimony for recommendations of lighter sentences in unrelated criminal cases. Peck said one or more witnesses with pending charges could testify against Murphy.
The defense said those witnesses' criminal records could benefit Murphy.
“It happens a lot in these kinds of cases,” Bell said. “We'll find out when they testify, but we want it to not have much weight.”
Prosecutors previously said Meighan was not promised a plea bargain deal for his testimony.
But during jury selection Peck said prosecutors could recommend lighter sentences for cooperating witnesses.
Court records indicate Meighan has several pending cases in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties for drunken driving and other offenses. Meighan has been arrested at least 11 times for drunken driving, court records show.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
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.
- Geyer Performing Arts Center hosts AAFC production of ‘Murder on the Nile’
- Man’s body found in car in Forbes State Forest
- Latrobe police seek driver of red cargo van
- Ligonier Township zoning map advances
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor’s case heads to trial
- Parking ban on New Stanton street discriminatory, property manager alleges
- Police charge 3 in Hempfield trailer court burglary
- Armstrong County man near deal in animal cruelty case
- Union Cemetery plot owners, heirs of deceased sought to sort out details of ownership
- Mt. Pleasant Borough delays decision on police chief
- Woman injured in fire in downtown Jeannette