Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2007

Murderer’s appeal can be heard on Web site

September 6, 2007


A former professor convicted of killing his ex-wife in November 2003 takes his case today to the Kansas Supreme Court - and attorneys' arguments will be played live online at the court's Web site.

Thomas Murray was convicted in March 2005 of stabbing and beating Carmin Ross, 40, at her home northwest of Lawrence. The case received national attention and was featured on CBS' "48 Hours" program.

Murray was teaching English at Kansas State University at the time of the murder.

Jurors found Murray guilty of first-degree murder, based largely on his suspicious statements and actions after Ross' death, even though there was no physical evidence clearly linking him to the crime. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The court is scheduled to hear his appeal today, starting about 9:20 a.m. The audio - which can be heard only with a Windows Media Player - can be found at


july241983 10 years, 6 months ago

for those wanting to listen to the arguemnt, it should start about 9:40-9:45. The court's website said the first argument is 20 minutes, but each side gets that.

Baille 10 years, 6 months ago

"What motivated Murray to kill his wife?"

Not an element of first degree murder.

"Was Murray at the scene of the crime?"

Would be an element. Physical evidence or eyewitness testimony is not necessary to meet the burden.

"Did Murray have a pattern of abuse and threats against his ex-wife?"

Not an element of first degree murder.

Murder in the first degree is the killing of a human being committed:

(a) Intentionally and with premeditation; or

(b) in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony as defined in K.S.A. 21-3436 and amendments thereto.

This is not to say that motive is not relevant. The Kansas Rules of Evidence classify motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident as "material facts." However, that does not mean that motive or a pattern of violence against the victim is a necessary fact that must be proved to convict for murder in the first degree.

Baille 10 years, 6 months ago

It is not what I "believe." It is what the law states. To prove first degree murder you have to prove four things: an inidvidual

  1. killed;
  2. a human being; and did so either 3a. intentionally and with premeditation (two elements); or 3b. in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony (again two elements) as defined in K.S.A. 21-3436 and amendments thereto

Definitions can be found in the Kansas criminal code. For instance, "intentional" is found at K.S.A. 21-3201.

The closest you are going to get to motive is "premeditation," but again that can be proved by circumstantional evidence and goes more to one's state of mind in the time leading up to the killing. As the Court has said "the circumstances which may give rise to an inference of premeditation include but are not limited to (1) the nature of the weapon used, (2) a lack of provocation, (3) the defendant's conduct before and after the killing, (4) threats and/or declarations made by the defendant before and after the killing, and (5) lethal blows inflicted after the deceased was felled and rendered helpless." None of this really goes to the lay definition of "motive," which I usually think of as "He killed her because..." Such is not necessary.

On the other hand, I never said that "is not necessary to prove someone was at the scene of a crime." I said that would be an element (absent a really freakish murder - which would probably require some sort of conspiracy) but that "[p]hysical evidence or eyewitness testimony is not necessary to meet the burden." Such could be proved through circumstantial evidence showing exclusive access, ownership of gun that killed the person, and so forth. Heck there have been murder convictions when not even the body was found.

Seems you want to drop this down to voluntary manslaughter but "heat of passion" is not defined by what you believe or by what any person believes the term to mean. The term "heat of passion" is defined by the courts as "any intense or vehement emotional excitement which was spontaneously provoked from circumstances. Such emotional state of mind must be of such degree as would cause an ordinary person to act on impulse without reflection."

So far the drive there, the computer research, and the way she was killed sounds more like murder in the first to me.

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