Murphy mulls withdrawal of 'no contest' plea
Last week, 62-year-old Timothy Murphy of South Waverly pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony charge in county court for his involvement in a May standoff at his William Street residence.
However, Murphy is unsure whether he will leave the plea as is or withdraw it and enter into a jury trial, he told The Daily Review this week.
"Right now, I'm just kind of letting things roll along as they are," said Murphy, who pleaded no contest to one count of terroristic threats in the county Court of Common Pleas.
The Sayre Borough Police Department, which also covers South Waverly, charged Murphy with simple assault, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, terroristic threats, terroristic threats causing serious public inconvenience and terroristic threats causing the evacuation of a building in the May 14 standoff, according to a criminal affidavit filed by borough police.
The county district attorney's office later withdrew the latter two terroristic threats charges, according to court filings.
Following his arraignment, Murphy was remanded to the Bradford County Correctional Facility in lieu of $200,000 bail, an amount later lowered to $10,000 unsecured bail.
The criminal complaint states that the standoff stemmed from a domestic dispute in the evening hours of May 13 between Murphy and his juvenile son, during which Murphy displayed a .357 magnum revolver and began to raise it toward his son - an exchange Murphy says he does not recall.
Murphy's son told police that he grabbed the gun and held it away from himself and that he thought his father was going to kill him, police said.
According to police, Murphy's body then went limp and he sat down on a couch and pulled out a speed loader for the revolver. He told his son, "Make sure whoever comes brings lots of help, 'cause I got this," police said.
However, Murphy says the first thing he remembers from that night is receiving a telephone call from police, who had by that time surrounded his house. Murphy said he attempted to remember such an argument while incarcerated, but failed.
Murphy also said his son has had several concussions as a result of participation in high school sports and suggested the injuries may have caused his son to misremember the night's events.
"I have no recollection of ever doing something that stupid," Murphy said. "Maybe I did. Who the hell knows. God forgive me."
Murphy also stated he intended to invoke the state's Castle Doctrine legislation when he suddenly found his home surrounded by police. Officers would not tell him why they were at his house until he surrendered, Murphy said.
Legislation amended state statutes in 2011 to allow the use of force when "the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion."
The section also places limitations on the use of force in self-protection, stating it is not justified in certain instances, including against public officers making arrests.
Murphy claims he felt threatened by police during the exchange and offered to talk calmly with them on his front porch, but they refused unless he came out with his hands up. Murphy said he refused to surrender for eight hours until officers, joined by members of the state police Special Emergency Response Team, threatened to do damage to his house that would not be covered by his homeowners' insurance.
Murphy, who served with Marines as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War, said part of the oath military officers take is to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," Murphy said. "That night, I perceived [the police] to be my domestic enemies."
Murphy's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10 in county court before senior judge Kenneth Brown. According to state sentencing guidelines, a third-degree felony charge is punishable by up to seven years' confinement and a $15,000 fine.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.