Sentence is death in Loyalhanna killings of mother, sister, aunt

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A Westmoreland County jury late Tuesday sentenced Kevin Murphy to death for the killings of his mother, sister and aunt at his Loyalhanna glass shop in 2009.

The jury deliberated nearly eight hours before delivering its decision shortly after 10 p.m.

Murphy, 52, had no reaction when the verdict was read.

His lawyers said they thought the lengthy deliberations meant the jury was likely to spare Murphy's life.

Murphy's family refused comment.

Murphy was convicted Friday of three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said Murphy executed the three at his glass shop, Ferguson Glass, on April 23, 2009, because they disapproved of his relationship with a married woman, Susan McGuire, who according to prosecution witnesses participated in the plot to "knock off" his relatives.

Ms. McGuire has not been charged and Mr. Peck would not discuss what may happen to her, if anything.

In his closing argument to the jury Tuesday, Mr. Peck said the case was unusual in that defendants in most capital cases have histories that typically include crime, drug and alcohol abuse, terrible home situations, neglect and physical or sexual abuse.

But Murphy's history is devoid of all those social ills.

He grew up in the peaceful village of Saltsburg as part of a close-knit family with a strong mother and father who provided a good example for him and his sister. He never received so much as a traffic ticket.

Rather than mitigating against the death penalty, Mr. Peck said, those factors "make the crime more horrific."

Mr. Peck said Murphy took advantage of the love shown by his mother, sister and aunt to lure them into the garage of the glass shop and then, "like a coward," shoot each of them in the back of the head.

The prosecution contended that Murphy used a six-shot .22-caliber pistol to shoot his mother first, firing three bullets into her head, then shot his sister twice and finally killed his aunt with his last bullet after she walked in on the murder scene.

"Edith, Doris and Kris were completely innocent victims," Mr. Peck said.

He said Murphy killed those closest to him so Ms. McGuire and her three children could move into the house he had shared with his mother and sister.

He and Ms. McGuire, who had just been divorced, lived together for a year until state troopers arrested Murphy in 2010 on the one-year anniversary of the killings.

Mr. Peck presented no witnesses, claiming that the nature of the crime was enough of an aggravating factor for Murphy to be executed.

Murphy's lawyers, by contrast, presented seven of his family and friends, each of whom told the jury that he is an honestman with a reputation for kindness.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-231-0132. First Published May 7, 2013 12:15 AM


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