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Attorneys file appeal based on lack of evidence


Claiming Judge Al Bell should not have allowed the Kevin Murphy triple-murder trial to get to the jury, the attorneys for the 52-year-old Conemaugh Township man have appealed his conviction for the 2009 slayings of his mother, sister, and aunt.


Indiana-based attorneys Mark Bolkovac and Robert Bell said in their filing Tuesday in Westmoreland County Court that there was never enough evidence for Murphy’s conviction and that Bell should have granted Murphy’s motion for acquittal.  The defense further claims that Bell should not have allowed Murphy’s statements to state police after the shootings to be used at the trial, and that the prosecution should have been barred from seeking the death penalty based on the principle of “heightened reliability” of Murphy’s statements, which they say were made under duress and while he was medicated.


In May, Murphy was found guilty of shooting the three women at the family’s glass shop near Saltsburg in Loyalhanna Township, across the Indiana/Westmoreland County line.  He had claimed he was feeding cattle at the neighboring farm of his uncle when the shootings occurred.  The key piece of evidence was the 22-caliber pistol found hidden at the glass shop, with Murphy’s DNA on it.  He had gunshot residue on his hand, and said he had shot at a bird earlier on the day of the murders. He was sentenced to death for one of the convictions and to concurrent life sentences for the other two.

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