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Murphy's family, friends plea for his life

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:57 a.m.

A Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday sentenced Kevin Murphy to death for fatally shooting his mother, sister and aunt four years ago.

Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh Township in Indiana County, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Doris Murphy, 69, Kris Murphy, 43, and Edith Tietge, 81, at their place of employment, Ferguson Glass, the Loyalhanna Township auto-glass business that Murphy owned.

Jurors deliberated for more than seven hours before announcing the sentence in the courtroom of Judge Al Bell.

Some jurors wept as the verdict was read shortly after 10 p.m. Murphy and his family showed no reaction.

Murphy “is in shock,” said defense attorney Bob Bell.

Murphy fired bullets from a .22-caliber revolver into the victims' heads because he needed to “knock off” his mother and sister, and then needed to kill his aunt when she walked in on the murders sometime after the shop closed on April 23, 2009, according to trial testimony.

Murphy's mother and sister lived with him at his home near Saltsburg, but he needed them out of the way to move his girlfriend into the house, according to the prosecution.

District Attorney John Peck argued for the death sentence for Murphy on behalf of the victims.

“He used the love they had for him to lure them into Ferguson Glass and, like a coward, to shoot them in the back of the head,” Peck told jurors.

After the sentence was announced, Peck said the police investigation into the murders continues after a former inmate at the prison testified he was told by Murphy that he killed the victims at the behest of his girlfriend.

“That is a matter that is still under investigation,” Peck said.

Attorney Bell argued that Murphy's age, his lack of a prior criminal record and good character warranted sparing his life.

“The death penalty should be reserved for people who are always in trouble, not a businessman who spent his whole life abiding the law,” Bell said.

Seven defense witnesses took the stand during the brief penalty phase of the trial.

Uncle Roy “Sonny” Martin, the brother of Doris Murphy and Tietge, testified on behalf of his nephew. “He was protective of his family,” Martin insisted.

Martin, who had gone to an auction that day, found the victims' bodies. He previously testified that Murphy was feeding cows at Martin's farm, across the road from the glass business, when the victims were killed.

Judge Bell will formally impose Murphy's sentence on Thursday morning.

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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