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Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Murray seeking new trial

August 29, 2007

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Imprisoned former K-State professor seeking a new trial

A former Kansas State University English professor convicted of killing his ex-wife claims he was denied a fair trial and wants a new one. Enlarge video

— Thomas E. Murray, the Kansas State University professor convicted of killing his ex-wife, Carmin D. Ross, in her rural Douglas County home, says he was denied a fair trial and wants a new one.

Murray's appeal will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Sept. 6.

"The state's case was a house of cards, built on dozens of minor circumstances," Murray's appellate attorney, Sarah Ellen Johnson, argued in a legal brief.

Johnson said there was insufficient evidence to convict Murray, who is serving a life sentence. She has asked the court to reverse the conviction and order a new trial.

But Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Angela Wilson said Murray received a fair trial and that any alleged errors in the trial were harmless when compared with the "overwhelming mountain of circumstantial evidence in this case."

Ross' body was discovered Nov. 14, 2003, in her home north of Lawrence, just days after she had told Murray that her boyfriend was moving in with her.

Murray and Ross, who had divorced in 2003, had been involved in a custody dispute over their 4-year-old daughter.

In his appeal, Murray argues that during the trial, prosecutors made improper statements in closing arguments and that the court wrongfully allowed the jury to hear testimony that Murray had invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and hearsay statements from witnesses that cast Murray in a negative light.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said Murray's blood was found in Ross' bathroom.

"There is no evidence to support that claim," Johnson wrote.

A prosecutor also said, "His best friend thinks he's a murderer." Johnson said that was a misstatement.

Also during testimony, a police detective testified that Murray had refused a follow-up interview on advice of counsel.

"The right to silence is meaningless if the invocation of that right can itself be used against a defendant," Johnson said.

But Wilson said Murray's attorneys opened the door to the detective's testimony about a follow-up interview when they asked him if there were other questions they had asked Murray.

Hearsay evidence, or what others had said Ross had said about Murray before her death, was allowable, Wilson said, because it was relevant to the marital discord and mental state of Murray.

As far as comments made during closing arguments, Wilson said Murray's attorneys failed to object at the time.

"Further, the failure to make objection deprived the trial court of the opportunity to cure any improper comment, if such comment was, in fact, improper," she wrote.

Comments

FormerCentralKansan 7 years, 3 months ago

Thomas Murray was beyond arrogant in his actions. Mr. Smart Guy thought he had an answer for everything but the truth always comes out. Guilty as charged your Honor!

Steve Jacob 7 years, 3 months ago

The long video of him with police before he was ever charged convicted him. Should have got a lawyer from the start.

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

logrithmic, hopefully the court requires more evidence than the JW chooses to report.

justthefacts 7 years, 3 months ago

Log - Let's hope you or your loved ones are never murdered by someone who doesn't look the part. - because by your logic (?!) people should get off just b/c the press doesn't cover all the evidence.

Not all murderers are or look like they are murderers.

Anyone who sat through the whole trial or know all the facts of the case have no doubt this guy did it. He just thought he was too clever to get caught. Thankfully, the jury figured it out despite attempts to throw them off the scent.

Yes, the government should not rail-road people to jail. But so also should the system not be so full of holes that a murderer gets away with it b/c he out-wits everyone in playing legal games. When that type of thing happens (too much) the whole justice system will fall like a house of carboard in a monsoon rain.

Centrist 7 years, 3 months ago

"" I also find it very weird that a college professor (non known to commit violence) would do so in such an extreme manner ""

It was a 'crime of passion' - people go off the deep end all the time when they can't let go of their Ex. So-called 'fine upstanding citizens' get crazy when it's about these types of issues. Happens every day, and besides, murderers always have a first (and possibly only) victim ....

If he gets a new trial, I hope they leave no stone unturned. Otherwise this POS will get off.

staff04 7 years, 3 months ago

Due process, anyone?

If the prosecuter said that there was blood found in the bathroom and there was no evidence of such and the statement was allowed by the judge, then the guy deserves a new jury. If he's guilty, they will figure it out. If it turns out that jurors made their decision based in part or in whole based on that prosecutor's comments, then the guy didn't get a fair trial, guilty or not.

CindiCat 7 years, 3 months ago

He WANTS a new trial? Well, there are people in HADES who want ice water too. Take a jug of it when you go.

I agree with "Pywacket's" post.

My 2 cents.

HappyFace 7 years, 3 months ago

I didn't see the piece on American Justice, but heard that there was alot more shown than what we saw in LJW. I think that it is a waste of taxpayer's money to grant a retrial to someone who has been found guilty and the evidence shows their guilt.

I suppose that someone will try to say that Marty Miller is innocent too. I knew Marty and thought I knew the man. I think that alot of folks felt the same way about Murray. But, just because someone doesn't APPEAR to have the makeup to commit murder doesn't mean that they didn't!

I am a Christian....and pray for both of these men. May God forgive them...and have mercy when He ushers them into hell for what they have done.

I feel sorry for the families left behind.

justthefacts 7 years, 3 months ago

Log - there was NO direct evidence linking Charles Manson to those murders either. But thankfully, the prosecutor tied up all the circumstantial pieces into a bundle and got that lunatic locked up.

Like it or not, the criminal justice system has to rely upon circumstantial evidence most of the time. It is rare that there are any eye-witnesses to murder. And it is rare that a case comes together with all the pieces present. That only happens on TV and in movies/books. You want "beyond a reasonable doubt" - you got it. The reality is that a jury of his peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, after hearing the evidence. That means the system worked. IF there were due process problems, he will get his new trial. But the system is set up so that criminal defendants get way more protections (on purpose) then the state/prosecutors. It is really not that easy to get convictions (thus, may cases are pled out ahead of time).

How may innocent people do you know that do a ton of computer searches on how to kill someone, and that have that troublesome someone turn up dead/murdered right after the searches are done??? Yea, it could be a coincidence. This time. But it was not that alone that got him convicted. They put that piece of evidence along with a lot other things (and talk to people who knew this couple, in Manhattan - most all say he was/is someone whom they believed capable of murder). The prosecutors in this case did a great job of tying up a lot of mini-pieces of evidence. If necessary, they can do it again.

justthefacts 7 years, 3 months ago

Here are two possible motives: (1) she left him and was MUCH happier for doing so and (2) she intended to take his daughter to another state. His daughter was the only human being who ever loved him, truly. He could not and did not form attachments well/easily. But a child.... he could fool her for awhile. People have killed over far less then someone they thought they owned leaving them behind, especially if there aren't that many people who have liked you in the first place! Sorry to say, but that's plenty good motive in the mind of someone whose shown a marked tendency towards being anti-social. Even on a good day most people can snap. But it takes a special kind of cold to do research on how to kill someone who has "done me wrong" and escape detection.

justthefacts 7 years, 3 months ago

You keep saying that his guilt was NOT established beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes it was. To the people that mattered. You seem to forget (or ignore) the fact that proving it to YOU is not required. Proving it to the 12 people on the jury (and the judge) is what the system requires. No one would EVER get convicted if all the citizens of the city/state/country had to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Some people (you) are just harder to convince.

domino 7 years, 3 months ago

My husband has been in law enforcement 25+ years - went to a Continuing Ed class that 2 of the prossicuting attorneys gave an overview of the case and the evidence used to convict him. No doubt in his mind the guy was guilty. Media only says so much - never the whole story, even though that's what they would like you to believe. Don't worry, he's guilty and was found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" by a jury of his peers. Remember - Dennis Rader didn't look the part either!

Grundoon Luna 7 years, 3 months ago

It's the video that really did this guy in. I believe that's what the jury indicated.

Log, you are right when you say that most divorced people don't kill thier ex just becuase they are moving out of state. But the fact is that in most cases where the ex's are killed at the center of the issue is a custody dispute (i.e. control). The parent with the controlling behavior - a well documented trait in Murray - just can't deal, no matter how mild mannered they may appear. Usually, those sick bastards go out of their way to appear the opposite in public. Then there is the sickening trend of murder/suicide, the ultimate in controlling behavior! The data is out there, just go look it up in the crime statisics. BTW. . . You don't have to physically batter somene in order to abuse them.

It is surely a coward who uses the privacy and security of their home to intimidate and terriorize their loved ones and Murray is a desperate, pathetic coward.

If you don't see a motive here it's because you don't want to see it. In this case motive is all over the place.

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