Jury reviews crime-scene photos in Westmoreland triple-murder trial

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A Westmoreland County jury hearing the triple-homicide trial of Kevin Murphy on Tuesday saw crime-scene photos of his mother, sister and aunt, all lying on the floor of the garage of his Loyalhanna glass shop with pools of blood around each of their heads.

Mr. Murphy, 52, is accused executing all three April 23, 2009, because they disapproved of his affair with a married woman.

He could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree murder in any of the three slayings.

Tuesday marked the first day of testimony in the trial, which could last several weeks, and it focused mostly on forensics and evidence recovery.

State troopers found the bodies of Mr. Murphy's mother, Doris Murphy; his sister, Kris Murphy; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, lying side-by-side in the garage of the family business, Ferguson Glass. Each had been shot in the back of the head.

A state police forensics expert said troopers initially suspected a robbery, but he said there were no signs of forced entry into the building. Police also discovered Doris Murphy's purse, which contained more than $400 in cash, in the office attached to the garage, and troopers found additional money in a tray on the office floor.

The jury also saw photos of what Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said was the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver, in the bottom of a catch basin for a belt sander.

Later in the day, Mr. Murphy's employee, Donald Shondelmyer, told the jury that he saw Kris Murphy carrying the gun into the business inside a Tupperware container several days before the murders.

He said Kevin Murphy had told him the weapon was needed to shoot a raccoon on his uncle's farm across the street, although he said he never saw anyone use it to shoot the animal and believed that Mr. Murphy's uncle shot it himself.

Mr. Shondelmyer will resume testifying today and is expected to tell the jury that Mr. Murphy had shown him a burn on his hand that he said he suffered when he supposedly used the gun to shoot at a bird on the day of the killings.

The prosecution contends that Mr. Murphy and his girlfriend, Susan Bortz McGuire, came up with that idea as part of Mr. Murphy's cover story to tell the police in explaining why he had fired the gun.

Mr. Peck says Mr. Murphy killed his relatives at the behest of Ms. McGuire because they stood in the way of the open relationship she wanted to have with him.

After the killings, she moved into his house with her three teenage children and ran the glass shop.

The defense contends that the three women were killed by an intruder.

neigh_westmoreland

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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