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Retrial sought in triple homicide of Indiana County relatives

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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 rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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