Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2005

Murder trial for KSU prof gets under way

Murray’s attorney says evidence lacking and ‘a hunch’ is all prosecutors have

February 17, 2005


Prosecutors this morning told jurors that a Kansas State University professor's "web" of suspicious statements will help convict him in his ex-wife's beating and stabbing death.

But defense attorneys countered that despite a nearly year-long investigation, the state developed no concrete evidence to link Thomas E. Murray to the killing of Carmin D. Ross at her home northwest of Lawrence.

Instead, evidence from the crime scene and from neighbors who drove by Ross' home will put other unknown people-- not Murray -- at the scene of the crime, defense attorney Bob Eye said.

"Who killed Carmin Ross? You're not going to know at the end of this trial because of these gaps in the evidence," Eye said. "All they had was a hunch, and a hunch is all they have today."

The remarks came during opening statements of what's expected to be a four- to six-week trial in District Court.

Prosecutors' case is built largely on Murray's behavior after the killing, such as his statements that injuries on his right hand came from cutting a pineapple, cleaning his gutters and rough-housing with his four-year-old daughter. He told police they'd find Ross' blood in his car because she'd borrowed it and had a nosebleed, and he told them they'd find his blood in her bathroom because he'd been picking a callous.

Prosecutors also found that Murray searched the Internet for terms including "How to murder someone and not get caught."

"His own words will help to show you that he is the one responsible for leaving Carmin bloody, battered and bruised in the living room of her house," assistant Dist. Atty. Angela Wilson said during a half-hour opening statement.

Eye's 90-minute opening statement was the first chance defense attorneys have had to present their side of the case. He described Murray as a peaceful person and pointed out that he cooperated fully with police.

Eye said none of Murray's hair was found at the crime scene, but there were hairs belonging to unidentified people. Fingerprints belonging to at least seven unknown people were found at the home, he said, but the only print belonging to Murray is believed by all parties to be unrelated to the crime.

"They looked hard and found nothing," Eye said.

And, Eye said crime-scene examination of drops of blood found in the bathroom-- the only place investigators found blood that didn't belong to Ross -- suggested it came from two male donors, but scientists couldn't conclude whether it came from Murray.

Shortly before noon, prosecutors called their first witness: Steve Grammer, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office sergeant who found Ross dead on Nov. 14, 2003, after her fiance in California asked police to check her welfare.

Ross' mother, Judi, is scheduled to take the witness stand next.

For more on this story, see the 6News reports at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband's channel 6 or pick up a copy of Friday's Journal-World.

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