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Murphy proceedings turn emotional

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

For the first time since his trial started, convicted murderer Kevin Murphy showed emotion as he hugged family members who insist police arrested the wrong man for killing his mother, sister and aunt.

He cried as he was allowed to hug family members and friends Thursday afternoon before he was taken from a Westmoreland County courtroom to a cell on death row.

Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, was formally sentenced to death for killing his 69-year-old mother, Doris Murphy, on April 23, 2009, in his glass shop in Loyalhanna Township.

In addition, Judge Al Bell sentenced Murphy to serve two concurrent life sentences for killing his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81.

“May God, in his infinite wisdom, have mercy on your soul, Mr. Murphy,” Bell said.

Murphy was convicted last Friday of three counts of first-degree murder for shooting each of the victims in the back of the head.

On Tuesday, the same jury deliberated more than seven hours before determining that Murphy should be put to death.

Murphy showed no emotion in the courtroom throughout 11 days of testimony, even as photographs of the victims were shown on a high-definition television and as he testified in his own defense during two days on the stand.

He remained stoic when the death penalty was announced shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

But he sobbed Thursday as he was embraced by an aunt and two uncles who sat behind him during much of the trial.

“It's been a rough four weeks,” said his aunt, Janet Murphy. “We're still backing Kevin. We hope in the near future the real killer will be found.”

Murphy and his family maintain that an unidentified killer ambushed the three women.

During the trial, defense attorneys sought to deflect blame toward Murphy's former girlfriend, Susan McGuire, and Donald Shondelmyer, his former best friend and employee, who now lives with the girlfriend and runs Murphy's business with her, or an unknown assailant who shot the victims in a case of mistaken identity where revenge was being exacted against a drug dealer.

All three women were found in the garage area of Ferguson Glass, the auto-glass shop Murphy owned with his family.

The prosecution argued that Murphy used a .22-caliber revolver, which police found under a piece of equipment in the shop, to kill his family.

He did so at the behest of his soon-to-be-divorced girlfriend, who wanted to move in with Murphy, according to District Attorney John Peck. Murphy's mother and sister, who lived with Murphy, disapproved of their relationship, Peck said.

Murphy's girlfriend moved into the family home a day after the murders.

Roy Martin, the brother of Doris Murphy and Edith Tietge, said Thursday he misses his sisters but still supports his nephew.

“This is making it worse, because the person who did this got away with it,” Martin said.

Martin, who testified for Murphy, found the bodies in a pool of blood.

Defense attorneys Robert Bell and Mark Bolkovac said Thursday they will appeal the verdicts.

Murphy and his family will have to decide on the future of Ferguson Glass, which is now being run by Murphy's former girlfriend and Shondelmyer, the shop employee. “It's something we'll have to discuss with Kevin and the family,” Bolkovac said.

Shondelmyer testified during the trial that he and McGuire are romantically involved and living together in Saltsburg. After Murphy's arrest, they had lived together in Murphy's family home, he testified.

Murphy will become the fifth person from Westmoreland County to await execution by lethal injection. As of May 1, there were 194 inmates on death row, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

No one has been executed in Pennsylvania since 1999, and just three men have been put to death since Pennsylvania reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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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