A former Indiana County man on death row for the murder of his mother, sister and aunt in the town of Layalahana is looking for another expert to review ballistics as part of another appeal against his conviction for first-degree murder in 2013.
Kevin Murphy’s lawyers made the request, and Westmoreland County Court Judge Megan Bilik-DeFasio agreed to the request, but said no more than $ 3,850 in taxpayers’ money could be used to examine the evidence.
Murphy, 60, was found guilty by a jury in 2013 of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Prosecutors claimed Murphy used a .22-caliber revolver to kill his 69-year-old mother Doris Murphy, 43-year-old sister Chris Murphy and 81-year-old aunt Edith Titge at the family’s car glass repair shop in Loyalhan.
Prosecutors claimed during the trial that Murphy killed the women because they disapproved of his romantic relationship with a married woman and objected to him living with her in a family home near Salzburg, Indiana.
Murphy pleaded not guilty during the trial.
His first appeal against the verdict was rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2016. He has since claimed to have received inadequate protection. Lawyers Brian Aston and Ken Noga were appointed to represent Murphy in 2017. Although they did not file a new appeal, they said they needed an expert to review the ballistic evidence before specific claims could be made.
As part of the trial, the shell casings and fragments found at the scene were presented by the prosecution, which said they came from Murphy’s weapon. A prosecution ballistics expert was unable to link two of the victims’ bullet fragments to Murphy’s pistol. According to Murphy’s defenders, DNA evidence of an unidentified person was also found at the scene.
In 2019, lawyers were allowed to spend up to $ 2,500 to hire a ballistics expert to review the appeal. However, since then, this expert did not want to work as a defense in this case, which required a new hire, according to Murphy’s lawyers.