Kevin Murphy will formally join Pennsylvania's death row today.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Al Bell will sentence him to death by lethal injection this afternoon after a jury imposed the penalty Monday night following a two-week trial.
Mr. Murphy, 52, of Conemaugh in Indiana County, was convicted of murdering his mother, sister and aunt in 2009 because they disapproved of his relationship with a married woman who wanted to move in with him.
It's unlikely, however, that Mr. Murphy will be executed for many years, if ever. Nearly 200 inmates are on death row in Pennsylvania, but the state hasn't executed anyone since Gary Heidnik in 1999.
Some residents in Westmoreland County who followed the Murphy case commented that the penalty phase was pointless, citing the fact that two of the county's most notorious murderers, John Lesko and Michael Travaglia, are still on death row more than 30 years after their 1979-80 rampage that left four dead.
The delay in that case, as in all the others, is due to the endless appellate process. Capital cases are subject to two levels of judicial review, first in the state system and then in the federal courts. Even after all of that, state clemency hearings can add more time to the process.
In addition, momentum seems to be building across the country to abolish the death penalty altogether. Last week, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to do so, bringing the total to 18 states.
In Mr. Murphy's case, the first step now is an automatic review by the state Supreme Court.
Pittsburgh region's death row
The vast majority of those on death row are from Philadelphia, but the Pittsburgh region has its share. As of May 1, this is the list, according to the Department of Corrections:Allegheny County
Richard Baumhammers: Convicted of killing five in a racially motivated South Hills shooting rampage in 2000.
Anthony Fiebiger: Convicted of raping and killing Marcia Jones of Mount Washington in 1982 and strangling Norma Parker of Carnegie in 1989.
Gerald Watkins: Convicted of shooting his ex-girlfriend, Beth Ann Anderson, their baby, Melanie, and Ms. Anderson???s son, Charles Kevin Kelly Jr., 9, at their house in Homewood in 1994.
Ronald Taylor: Convicted of killing three in a 2000 Wilkinsburg shooting rampage targeting white people.
Wayne Mitchell: Convicted of raping and killing his estranged wife, Robin Little, 19, in Homewood in 1997.
Leroy Fears: Convicted of sexually assaulting and killing Shawn Hagan, 12, in 1994 after meeting him at a fishing spot along the Monongahela River.
Kenneth Hairston: Convicted of killing his wife, Catherine, and autistic son, Sean, with a sledgehammer in their Garfield home in 2001.
Patrick Stollar: Convicted in the 2003 beating, strangulation and stabbing of Jean Heck, 78, in her Upper St. Clair home.
Scott Blystone: Convicted in the 1986 killing of hitchhiker Dalton Smithburger.
Mark Breakiron: Convicted in the 1987 stabbing of waitress Saundra Martin.
Mark Edwards: Convicted in the 2002 murders of Larry Bobish, his wife Joanna, and their pregnant daughter, Krystal, in their North Union home.
Roland Steele: Convicted in the 1985 "karate-style" murders of three elderly women: Lucille Horner, 88, Minnie Warwick, 86, and Sarah Knutz, 85.
Michelle Tharp: Convicted in the 1998 starvation death of her daughter, Tausha Lee Lanham, 7.
- Butler County
Donald Tedford: Convicted in the rape and murder of Jeanine Revak, 22, in 1986.
Jeffrey Martin: Convicted in the rape and murder of Gabrielle Bechen, 12, in 2006.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510. First Published May 8, 2013 10:00 AM