Suspect in Loyalhanna Twp. triple-murder takes stand

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LOYALHANNA TOWNSHIP, Pa. —

The man accused of killing his mother, sister and aunt at their family business in April 2009 took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.

Kevin Murphy told the jury that he was inconsolable when he found the bodies at Ferguson Glass Shop.

His uncle, who was with him on the day of the murders, answered a 911 dispatcher’s questions.

In the 911 tape played in court, Murphy’s uncle was asked by the dispatcher “Is there people there?” He answered, “Yeah, yeah. They're lying on the floor.” The dispatcher went on to ask, “Are they breathing?” to which Murphy’s uncle responded, “No, no. There's blood all over the place.”

After the 911 call, police questioned Murphy at the hospital where he was treated for a panic attack. Murphy told police that he did not kill his family, and reiterated that in court Wednesday.

A former Westmoreland County Prison inmate testified Wednesday that Murphy did not speak with inmates about being accused of killing his relatives.

Michael Runion, 24, told jurors that his former cell mate, John Meighan, received all his information about the killings from newspaper and television reports about the fatal shootings of Doris Murphy, 69, Kris Murphy, 43, and Edith Tietge, 81, at Ferguson Glass in Loyalhanna Township.

Murphy, 52, was arrested one year after the murders at the family business.

Meighan was a key prosecution witness who testified last week that Murphy disclosed personal information and details about the shootings while both were in prison.

Meighan, who was facing drunken driving charges, testified that Murphy killed the victims at the behest of his girlfriend, who was getting a divorce and wanted to move into the home Murphy shared with his mother and sister near Saltsburg in Indiana County.

Runion was called by defense attorneys in an attempt to discredit Meighan.

Murphy “didn't discuss details of his case,” Runion testified.

Under questioning from District Attorney John Peck, Runion could not recall whether he previously read in newspapers any of the details that Meighan gave jurors about Murphy's story.

Meighan described a meeting between Murphy and his girlfriend on the morning of the murders on April 23, 2009, and said Murphy admitted that he “knocked off” the victims.

Peck is seeking to convict Murphy of first-degree murder and will seek the death penalty if the jury returns that verdict.

Runion conceded that he saw Meighan and Murphy walking together in their cell block and was unaware of details of their conversations.

Runion is serving a two- to five-year sentence at a state prison in Fayette County for a series of burglaries in Westmoreland County.

The prosecution will cross-examine Murphy Thursday morning.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.