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Archive for Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Prosecutors say facts point to Murray’s guilt

Jury set to resume deliberations this morning

March 15, 2005

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After a day full of fist-pounding and finger-jabbing orations by attorneys, jurors on Monday began their deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of a Kansas State University professor charged with killing his ex-wife.

In their closing argument, prosecutors described defendant Thomas E. Murray as a masterful manipulator of facts. They asked jurors to examine the details of the inconsistencies in his statements -- down to his story that he searched for murder-related terms on the Internet because he wanted to write scripts for TV crime shows.

"The reality is the only 'CSI' script this defendant ever wrote is the one he starred in," Assistant Dist. Atty. Angela Wilson said.

But defense attorneys likened the case against Murray to the glow-in-the dark crime-scene chemical luminol, which is used to detect traces of blood. Although luminol gives off an eerie glow when it comes in contact with blood, it doesn't prove conclusively that the glowing substance is blood.

Similarly, the evidence against Murray may cast an eerie glow about him, but it doesn't prove he's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they said.

"If he cannot be put at the scene, everything else doesn't matter," defense attorney Pedro Irigonegaray said.

Deliberations start

Jurors began their deliberations about 4 p.m. and went home for the day about 5 p.m. The jury consists of eight women and four men.

Three of the 15 jurors who heard the case have been designated as alternates and will not deliberate unless needed.

During closing arguments in Douglas County District Court,
Assistant Dist. Atty. Angela Wilson demonstrates to the jury how
Carmin D. Ross was murdered. Wilson held a 6-inch boning knife, the
same type that was missing from Ross' kitchen after she was found
dead in her home northwest of Lawrence in November 2003. Ross'
ex-husband, Thomas E. Murray, is charged in her death.

During closing arguments in Douglas County District Court, Assistant Dist. Atty. Angela Wilson demonstrates to the jury how Carmin D. Ross was murdered. Wilson held a 6-inch boning knife, the same type that was missing from Ross' kitchen after she was found dead in her home northwest of Lawrence in November 2003. Ross' ex-husband, Thomas E. Murray, is charged in her death.

Prosecutors allege Murray, 48, came to Carmin D. Ross' home northwest of Lawrence on Nov. 13, 2003, tried to beat her to death by striking her in the head, then grabbed a knife from her kitchen and stabbed her about 13 times in the neck.

During her closing argument, Wilson pounded her fist on a table to demonstrate the repeated stabbing of Ross. She showed jurors a photo of Ross' bloody and bruised neck next to photos of the injuries found on Murray's hands.

She held up a 6-inch boning knife -- similar to the only knife found missing from the knife block in Ross' kitchen. She demonstrated how the killer might have held the weapon and showed how the slipping of the knife in the killer's hand would have caused a cut similar to the slice on Murray's pinkie finger.

Wilson displayed a poster board with descriptions of evidence written around the edges. She used a red marker to circle each group of words one by one as she discussed it, then drew an arrow from each pointing to the center of the board.

In the center of the board were the words "Murray killed Carmin."

"There is only one thing that explains all the evidence," Wilson said.





Irigonegaray later displayed the prosecutors' poster and repeatedly jabbed his finger at it as he tried to refute each point. For example, Irigonegaray said the child-custody battle involving Ross and Murray's 4-year-old daughter, Ciara, wasn't as heated as prosecutors claimed.

"'Mediation failing,'" Irigonegaray said as he read from the board. "Says who? In Tom's mind, mediation was working."

Three crucial points

Of all the evidence in the case, Wilson directly challenged defense attorneys to explain away the following three inconsistencies:

l If Murray knew how to get to a Lawrence Walgreens store -- as indicated by his signature on a receipt for the children's medicine Pedialyte -- why did he tell investigators he didn't?

Spectators and members of the media filled the courtroom Monday for
closing arguments. At far left, defense attorneys counsel with
defendant Thomas E. Murray, who is charged in the slaying of his
ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross. The jurors heard closing arguments Monday
before beginning deliberations.

Spectators and members of the media filled the courtroom Monday for closing arguments. At far left, defense attorneys counsel with defendant Thomas E. Murray, who is charged in the slaying of his ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross. The jurors heard closing arguments Monday before beginning deliberations.

Murray told police Ross had driven his car to buy Pedialyte because he would have gotten lost and didn't know how to get to the nearest drugstore. It was on that drive, he said, that Ross had a nosebleed in his car.

Irigonegaray said it was possible Ross had gone to the store with Murray on that trip. But prosecutor Tom Bath pointed out that Murray never told police that.

l If Murray really wanted to write "CSI" scripts, why didn't police find any on his computers?

Irigonegaray argued Murray's Internet searches -- for subjects including how to make a bomb, how to poison someone and "how to kill someone quickly and quietly" -- weren't consistent with the way Ross died. He said the searches appeared to be done by someone looking for interesting plot twists.

Bath responded that, when police asked Murray if he ever searched for anything unusual online, he said he'd searched only once for information related to crime-scene investigations.

l Why didn't a forensic computer examination show Murray checking his e-mail the morning of the murder, as he had every Thursday previously in the semester except one in which he was out of town?

"Well, what if he didn't?" Irigonegaray asked. "He dropped off Ciara and went to grade tests."

Murray initially told police he was home all morning grading tests. He later changed his story and said he'd gone driving on Interstate 70 toward Paxico but turned around on the way.

Douglas County District judge Robert Fairchild, left, works to fix
some computer projection equipment before closing arguments in his
courtroom in the murder trial of Tom E. Murray. Murray, a Kansas
State University professor, pictured in foreground at right, is
charged with murdering his ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross, in November
2003 at her home northwest of Lawrence.

Douglas County District judge Robert Fairchild, left, works to fix some computer projection equipment before closing arguments in his courtroom in the murder trial of Tom E. Murray. Murray, a Kansas State University professor, pictured in foreground at right, is charged with murdering his ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross, in November 2003 at her home northwest of Lawrence.

Irigonegaray accused Wilson of making a "great misstatement" of evidence by saying in her closing argument that Murray's blood was found mixed with Ross' in a first-floor bathroom apparently used by the killer to clean up after the crime. A DNA expert for the prosecution testified the blood was consistent with Murray's, but it couldn't conclusively be linked to him.

Later, prosecutor Bath showed a picture of the bathroom and reminded jurors that, before Murray had been told of any of the details of the crime, he told detectives they'd find his blood in that very spot because he had a bleeding callus.

Defense cites 'hunches'

Bath displayed before-and-after photos of Ross: one showing her smiling and happy, and another showing her lying on her carpet near her couch, stabbed and bruised nearly beyond recognition.

All the evidence, Bath said, pointed toward someone who knew Ross' routine, knew she would be home alone and wasn't there to commit a burglary or sexual assault.

"Somebody that had to have her dead ... is who did this crime," he said.

Bath showed parts of Murray's nearly 10-hour videotaped statement to police. Even though Murray never testified, his statement to police makes him a primary witness, Bath said.

At one point during the video, Murray says he's "having fun" from "the 'CSI' perspective."

Defense attorney Bob Eye reminded jurors Murray had no burden to prove his innocence and warned them not to make "inferences piled on inferences."

For example, Eye said, they shouldn't infer that because no physical evidence was found, Murray destroyed it.

"There's no evidence of Tom Murray having destroyed anything," he said.

Eye said the prosecutors' case "raised suspicions. It raised hunches, but without the facts to back that up."

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