Archive for Saturday, December 11, 2004

Murray ordered to trial in killing

Last day of hearing focuses on blood, police interview

December 11, 2004


Defense attorneys for a Kansas State University professor asked members of the public to stay open-minded after a judge's ruling Friday that there's enough evidence to try the professor for first-degree murder.

After a five-day preliminary hearing and testimony from more than 20 witnesses, Judge Robert Fairchild found there was probable cause to believe English professor Thomas E. Murray stabbed and killed his ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross, in November 2003. No trial date was set.

But attorneys for Murray, 48, said after the hearing that not all the evidence in the case had come out. The standard for finding someone guilty at trial is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher standard than probable cause.

"We want to remind everyone ... to please keep in mind that the Constitution provides Mr. Murray with the presumption of innocence," said Pedro Irigonegaray, who is representing the suspect.

The only evidence presented Friday was the remainder of a nearly 10-hour video showing Murray being interviewed by Douglas County Sheriff's detectives at the Riley County Police Department on Nov. 14, 2003, the day Ross was found slain at her home northwest of Lawrence near Lakeview Lake.

The detectives, Doug Woods and Pat Pollock, confronted Murray about a number of coincidences in his alibi. For example, Murray told them he had a bleeding callous on his hand at Ross' home days earlier and used a towel in her first-floor bathroom to clean it up.

"You'll find a drop of my blood on that towel. Guarantee it," Murray said in the video.

Police did find blood in the bathroom, and prosecutors said the killer used the room to clean up after stabbing Ross. But those details weren't released publicly at the time.

At one point during the video, Murray appears to pick at calluses on his hands and says to police, "These things keep opening up."

Murray also told police Ross had borrowed his car a day earlier and had a nose bleed, and that he had a bruise on his index finger from playing with his 4-year-old daughter.

"I got a 10-year-old that is a beast of a child," Woods said. "He doesn't bruise me. I don't believe that for a minute."

Murray asked the detectives several questions about crime-scene investigation techniques, such as whether they would spray his car with a chemical used to detect blood.

"I'm having fun with it from the CSI standpoint," Murray said in the video.

Murray told detectives he'd followed Ross from the entryway of the home into her kitchen a few days earlier, and that there might have been blood dripping from his finger during the visit. Police found blood on a dishwasher and found a knife was missing from a wooden block in the kitchen.

Pollock said he didn't know anyone else who encountered blood as much as Murray did. Pollock called some of Murray's statements "ridiculous," but Murray insisted throughout the interview that he had nothing to do with Ross' death.

"There has to be some set of circumstances," Murray said. "Why not this set? ... I'm doing my level-headed best to apply the logic and skills that I have and fill things in."

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