Jan 9, 2008

Circumstantial and significantly more shaky

As Murphy, a small woman, sat in the courtroom shaking her head at the testimony, her attorney led the fire marshal through each witness' statement.

Two witnesses said they saw Murphy behind the building a few minutes before the fire, according to Ernest's testimony. One said she saw Murphy walking in that direction. A man and a woman, in a car in front of the motel that morning, said they had an argument with Murphy.

The sixth and seventh witnesses were dropping children off at a nearby daycare facility, according to Ernest, and said they saw Murphy near the motel. They remembered seeing her because they say they saw her again, half a mile from the fire, pointing at the smoke and yelling.

The fire department's eighth witness, the one who alleges that Murphy talked about burning the building down, Ernest said, only came forward when a $10,000 reward was offered for information.

In the warrant application filed at the courthouse, Murphy is alleged to have said, "I'm going to burn this [expletive] down." During the probable cause hearing, however, Ernest said the full statement wasn't so clearly directed at the building. According to the witness, he said, Murphy was heard saying, "Who do those drug boys think they're dealing with? I'm going to burn this [expletive] down."

Frey questioned the witnesses' creditability, and said the witnesses' statements didn't actually connect Murphy to the fire.

"What evidence do you have that she deliberately set the fire?" Frey asked.

"I have no evidence she deliberately set the fire," Ernest said. "It's all circumstantial."

"Do you have any evidence that she accidentally set the fire?" Frey asked.

"No," the fire marshal said.

"Do you have any evidence that she doused the mattresses with lighter fluid, or some flammable liquid?" the attorney continued.

"No," Ernest said.

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily:
No evidence direstly links arson suspect to fire