Man guilty of killing mother, sister, aunt

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A Westmoreland County jury Friday convicted Kevin Murphy of first-degree murder in the killings of his mother, sister and aunt four years ago and will return to court Monday to decide if he should be put to death.

"We're going to fight for his life," said one of his lawyers, Bob Bell.

Jurors deliberated just 31/2 hours after listening to eight days of testimony.

"I think we're surprised they came back as fast as they did," Mr. Bell said. He would not comment about the defense strategy next week.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck also said he would not comment until the penalty phase is over.

Mr. Murphy was convicted of the April 23, 2009, shootings of his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81. All three were found shot in the back of the head inside the garage of Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna, Mr. Murphy's business.

In his closing statement earlier in the day, Mr. Peck told the jury that Mr. Murphy and his girlfriend, Susan McGuire, planned the killings, worked out an alibi and made sure there were no witnesses. Ms. McGuire has not been charged.

Then, he said, Mr. Murphy shot each woman one by one in the glass shop.

"It's inconceivable that anyone else committed this homicide," Mr. Peck said.

He said Mr. Murphy's motive was emotional fulfillment. While a successful businessman who grossed up to $400,000 a year, he was approaching age 50 with no wife and no children.

"He doesn't have what makes people truly happy in life," said Mr. Peck. "And he wanted that."

But his family stood in the way.

His mother and sister both disapproved of his affair with Ms. McGuire, who was married with three children but getting divorced. On the morning of the killings, Mr. Peck said, she told him to "knock off" his family so she could move in with him. Later that day, she called him to say she had been served with the divorce papers. The day after the murders she moved into the house he had shared with his mother and sister.

He lived with her and the children for a year until state troopers arrested him on the anniversary of the murders.

Mr. Peck said Mr. Murphy knew his uncle, who lived across the street on a farm with his sister, Edith Tietge, was heading to an auction that day and told him to stay until the end of the auction and that he would take care of feeding the cows.

Mr. Peck said he then sent his sister over to the farm on a tractor to check on a newborn calf.

Alone with his mother at the shop, he shot her in the back of the head with a .22-caliber revolver he had brought to the shop a few days earlier, Mr. Peck said.

As Kris Murphy returned to the shop, a local hunter, John Pemberton, also showed up to hunt on the property, as he often did. Rather than let him park in his normal spot near the glass business, Mr. Peck said Mr. Murphy told him to park closer to the woods where he planned to hunt. Again, Mr. Peck said, he wanted Mr. Pemberton far away so he could kill.

Mr. Murphy then drew his sister into the shop and shot her, Mr. Peck said.

When Ms. Tietge came over -- possibly to check on the sound of the gunshots -- Mr. Murphy shot her, too, Mr. Peck said.

Under questioning by police, Mr. Murphy said he brought the gun to the shop so he could shoot at a bird, citing a fear of birds from an incident in his childhood in which one chased him. He shot at the bird that morning, before the killings, and told his co-worker and best friend, Donald Shondelmyer, that the gun had burned his hand. Mr. Peck said the bird story was part of the alibi that Mr. Murphy and Ms. McGuire had developed in case police found his DNA on the gun.

In his closing, one of Mr. Murphy's lawyers, Mark Bolkovac, suggested that Ms. McGuire and Mr. Shondelmyer had motive to commit the killings.

Mr. Shondelmyer, who worked for Mr. Murphy at the shop, is now living with Ms. McGuire and the children at Mr. Murphy's home in Indiana County, and the two are running the glass company together.

The defense has also suggested the killer could have been an intruder aiming to rob the business.

But Mr. Peck said the shooter was someone close to the victims.

"The person who brought them into the garage is someone they knew," he said, "someone they trusted, someone they thought loved them as a son, a brother and a nephew."

By Torsten Ove

A Westmoreland County jury on Friday convicted Kevin Murphy of first-degree murder in the killings of his mother, sister and aunt four years ago and will return to court on Monday to decide if he should be put to death.

"We're going to fight for his life," said one of his lawyers, Bob Bell.

Jurors deliberated just 31/2 hours after listening to eight days of testimony.

"I think we're surprised they came back as fast as they did," said Mr. Bell.

He would not comment about the defense strategy next week.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck also said he would not comment until the penalty phase is over.

Mr. Murphy was convicted of the April 23, 2009, shootings of his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81. All three were found shot in the back of the head inside the garage of Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna, Mr. Murphy's business.

In his closing statement earlier in the day, Mr. Peck told the jury that Mr. Murphy and his girlfriend, Susan McGuire, planned the killings, worked out an alibi and made sure there no witnesses. Ms. McGuire has not been charged.

Then, he said, Mr. Murphy shot each woman one by one in the glass shop.

"It's inconceivable that anyone else committed this homicide," said Mr. Peck.

He said Mr. Murphy's motive was emotional fulfillment.

While a successful businessman who grossed up to $400,000 a year, he was approaching age 50 with no wife and no children.

"He doesn't have what makes people truly happy in life," said Mr. Peck. "And he wanted that."

But his family stood in the way.

His mother and sister both disapproved of his affair with Ms. McGuire, who was married with three children but getting divorced. On the morning of the killings, Mr. Peck said, she told him to "knock off" his family so she could move in with him. Later that day she called him to say she had been served with the divorce papers. The day after the murders she moved into the house he had shared with his mother and sister.

He lived with her and the children for a year until state troopers arrested him on the anniversary of the murders.

Mr. Peck said Mr. Murphy knew his uncle, who lived across the street on a farm with his sister, Edith Tietge, was heading to an auction that day and told him to stay until the end of the auction and that he would take care of feeding the cows.

Mr. Peck said he then sent his sister over to the farm on a tractor to check on a newborn calf.

Alone with his mother at the shop, he shot her in the back of the head with a .22 he had brought to the shop a few days earlier, Mr. Peck said.

As Kris returned to the shop, a local hunter, John Pemberton, also showed up to hunt on the property, as he often did. Rather than let him park in his normal spot near the glass business, Mr. Peck said Mr. Murphy told him to park closer to the woods where he planned to hunt. Again, Mr. Peck said, he wanted Mr. Pemberton far away so he could kill.

He then drew his sister into the shop and shot her, he said.

When Edith Tietge came over -- possibly to check on the sound of the gunshots -- Mr. Murphy shot her, too, Mr. Peck said.

Under questioning by police, Mr. Murphy said he brought the gun to the shop so he could shoot at a bird, citing a fear of birds from an incident in his childhood in which a bird chased him. He shot at the bird that morning, before the killings, and told his co-worker and best friend, Donald Shondelmyer, that the gun had burned his hand. Mr. Peck said the bird story was part of the alibi that Mr. Murphy and Ms. McGuire had developed in case police found his DNA on the gun.

In his closing, one of Mr. Murphy's lawyers, Mark Bolkovac, suggested that Ms. McGuire and Mr. Shondelmyer had motive to commit the killings.

Mr. Shondelmyer, who worked for Mr. Murphy at the shop, is now living with Ms. McGuire and the children at Mr. Murphy's home in Indiana County, and the two are running the glass company together.

The defense has also suggested the killer could have been an intruder aiming to rob the business.

But Mr. Peck said the shooter was someone close to the victims.

"The person who brought them into the garage is someone they knew," he said, "someone they trusted, someone they thought loved them as a son, a brother and a nephew."

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-231-0132.

mobilehome - breaking - neigh_westmoreland

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published May 3, 2013 12:30 AM


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