A jailhouse informant testified Friday that accused killer Kevin Murphy told him that he killed his mother, sister and aunt in 2009 at the behest of his girlfriend, who wanted them out of the way so she could move in with him.
"I don't think Kevin would have done this if it weren't for her," said John Meighan, who befriended Mr. Murphy in April 2010 when both were incarcerated at the Westmoreland County Prison.
Mr. Meighan, who had testified at a preliminary hearing three years ago, largely repeated the story he told then, saying that Mr. Murphy met with his girlfriend, Susan McGuire, on the morning of April 23, 2009, at a Giant Eagle parking lot in Vandergrift.
Mr. Murphy and Ms. McGuire, who was in the process of getting a divorce, were upset that Mr. Murphy's family disapproved of his affair with the married mother of three, according to Mr. Meighan.
"Today's the day," he said Ms. McGuire told Mr. Murphy. "You're going to knock them off."
He said Mr. Murphy then told him directly, "I knocked them off."
Mr. Meighan's testimony marked the fifth day of testimony in the murder trial of Mr. Murphy, who faces a potential death sentence in the killings of his mother, Doris Murphy, 69; his sister, Kris Murphy, 43; and his aunt, Edith Tietge, 81. The three were found shot, each in the back of the head, at Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna, Mr. Murphy's business. The gun was discovered in the catch basin of a belt sander nearby.
District Attorney John Peck contends that Mr. Murphy killed the women because they stood in the way of his relationship with Ms. McGuire, with whom he had been carrying on an affair for at least a year before the killings.
The defense is trying to convince the jury that someone else killed the victims.
Mr. Meighan said he met Mr. Murphy in April 2010, after police had charged Mr. Murphy with the killings and Mr. Meighan was in jail on a probation violation connected to a drunken driving conviction.
He said Mr. Murphy told him the story of his relationship with Ms. McGuire and the killings while the two took walks around the prison block. Both men had girlfriends who were running their businesses while they were in jail, and they had talked about the possibility of their girlfriends finding other boyfriends while they were behind bars.
When Mr. Meighan asked Mr. Murphy if he was worried that Ms. McGuire would return to her husband and run the business with him, he said Mr. Murphy answered, "I have something on her, and that's not going to happen."
What Mr. Murphy meant, he said, was her involvement in planning the killings.
Ms. McGuire has not been charged.
Mr. Meighan said Mr. Murphy told him that Ms. McGuire had encouraged him to kill the women because she wanted to divorce her husband and have an open relationship with Mr. Murphy.
"She got tired of being with her husband. She couldn't stand him touching her," Mr. Meighan said. "She wanted to be with Kevin."
He said Ms. McGuire came up with an alibi for Mr. Murphy, telling him to make sure he was seen on his uncle's nearby farm, feeding the cows, when the bodies were discovered so he would not be placed at the scene.
After the killings, Mr. Meighan said Mr. Murphy told him, Ms. McGuire and her three teenage boys moved into the home Mr. Murphy had shared with his mother and sister and lived there for a year before Mr. Murphy's arrest on the one-year anniversary of the killings.
In May 2010, about two weeks after meeting Mr. Murphy at the prison, Mr. Meighan said he had his girlfriend contact the district attorney's office and set up a meeting to discuss what he had heard about the homicides. He had several other meetings with the district attorney and testified at the preliminary hearing later that month.
"It was a tough thing to do," he said, because he knew he would be labeled a "snitch."
But he said he didn't understand why Ms. McGuire had not also been arrested and said he "had to do something" about what he'd heard.
The trial will continue Monday, with forensic pathologist Cyril H. Wecht expected to testify.