Retrial sought in triple homicide of Indiana County relatives
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The lawyers for an Indiana County man on death row for killing three family members said in court documents filed on Wednesday that his trial judge should never have let the triple murder case go to the jury.
Kevin Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township was convicted in May of three counts of first-degree murder for the April 23, 2009, shooting deaths of his mother, sister and aunt in the garage of the family-owned glass repair shop in Loyalhanna Township.
A Westmoreland County jury sentenced Murphy to death.
But in their appeal of Murphy's conviction, defense attorneys Mark Bolkovac and Robert Bell said there was never enough evidence to find Murphy guilty.
The only evidence was a theory that the murder weapon was owned by the defendant and that Murphy confessed his crime to a jailhouse informant, the defense said.
“It is asserted that the court ... should not have permitted this case to be deliberated by the jury and in fact should have granted the defendant's motion for acquittal,” Murphy's defense team wrote in its appeal.
The defense wants Judge Al Bell to grant Murphy a new trial.
The prosecution argued at trial that Murphy killed his family members at the behest of his soon-to-be divorced girlfriend because they did not approve of the relationship.
All three family members, mother Doris Murphy, 69; sister Kris Murphy, 43; and aunt Edith Tietge, 81, were shot in the head and left for dead at Ferguson Auto Glass, where they worked with Murphy.
Police said Murphy used a .22-caliber gun he brought into the shop a few days before the killings. That gun was found hidden beneath a piece of equipment near the bodies.
Murphy's DNA was on the murder weapon and a small amount of gunshot residue was found on his hands after the shootings.
Murphy maintained his innocence when he testified in the trial. He told jurors he didn't know who killed his relatives and that he was across the street feeding cows at his uncle's farm at the time.
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.
- Murrysville woman sues Giant Eagle over burns
- Hempfield church offers rides to shut-ins for Holy Thursday service
- Graziani hired away from Latrobe as Penn Township’s manager
- Bridge work a priority for PennDOT in Westmoreland
- Judge explains why suspect in East Liberty killings was freed
- New Alexandria man charged with assaulting boy in 2009
- Former Scottdale minister Stabe honored by Jacobs Creek Faith in Action
- Retired postal worker picks $1M winner
- Community turns out for Franklin Regional students’ return to class
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- City approves deal to supply Greater Latrobe with school resource officer