Latrobe woman ordered to stand trial in standoff that left man dead, trooper wounded
Clayton Slivko was relieved to find a specific type of OxyContin in stock that a gun-wielding robber was demanding on July 18.
“I was afraid he was just going to start opening fire — shooting — as he was threatening to do,” testified Slivko, a pharmacist at Precision Care Pharmacy in Latrobe.
Police believe the handgun Scott M. Murphy, 46, carried into the pharmacy at 2:30 p.m. was stolen and had been given to him by Julian Faye Upholster, 25, of Latrobe. Investigators say Murphy used the handgun and an assault rifle allegedly stolen by Upholster during a 19-hour standoff and gun battle with police on July 19 that left Murphy dead and a trooper wounded.
District Judge Michael Mahady ordered that Upholster stand trial on theft and firearms charges during a preliminary hearing on Monday afternoon.
Murphy was shot at least twice during the standoff, but investigators have not ruled whether the fatal wound was inflicted by him or a state police Special Emergency Response Team weapon. A coroner's inquest is planned.
The standoff began about 5 p.m. July 18 when Latrobe police unsuccessfully attempted to speak to Murphy at his Lloyd Avenue home about the pharmacy robbery. The standoff stretched through the night and next morning until about noon on July 19, paralyzing the neighborhood. Trooper Brian King's life was saved by a helmet and facial shield when Murphy fired from behind a closed door at officers who stormed his home.
King, 44, underwent surgery for an eye wound and is expected to fully recover.
Upholster was at Murphy's home on July 18 when Latrobe police arrived, along with Murphy's parents and two sons, according to testimony. Everyone left the house and spoke to police while negotiations with Murphy were ongoing.
Murphy believed Upholster was his girlfriend, but she saw him as more of a “best friend” who “gave her drugs,” Trooper Isaac Lanham testified.
Upholster's attorney, Michael Ferguson, said afterward that his client was being “controlled by a very mad man who was taking advantage of her readily acknowledged drug problem.”
Corey Wayne May of Latrobe testified that he thought he may have misplaced his two firearms. But when Upholster, his girlfriend with whom he shared an apartment, called on July 18 to tell him that Murphy had robbed a pharmacy and refused to speak to police, May “kinda put two and two together,” he testified.
“Nobody was supposed to have access to them,” May said.
Lanham testified that a .380-caliber pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle belonging to May were seized from Murphy's home after the standoff through a search warrant.
“(Upholster) indicated that on (July 17) that she and Mr. Murphy had driven over to the apartment she shares with Corey May” and took both of the guns, Lanham said.
Upholster told police that she was “aware that (Murphy) was going to commit a robbery,” Lanham testified.
Upholster was not allowed to have a firearm because of a felony conviction. She pleaded guilty to an armed robbery at a Unity Eat'n Park on June 24, 2008, and was sentenced in August 2008 to 11 1⁄2 to 23 1⁄2 months in prison, followed by one year of probation.
Online court records show she was paroled early in November 2008 to inpatient treatment, and her probation ended on Aug. 16, 2011.
Upholster is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on charges of illegal possession of a firearm, theft, firearms not to be carried without a license, robbery and two counts each of receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374. or firstname.lastname@example.org.