Prosecutors were persuasive in their argument against Kelli Murphy, who was found guilty of killing her two children over a bitter custody battle.
A jury on Nov. 27 found Murphy guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree and two counts of murder in the first degree by a person in a position of trust. She was immediately sentenced to life without parole, the only punishment for first-degree murder under Colorado law.
Murphy was convicted in the May 22, 2011 deaths of her children, Liam and Madigan Murphy. The children were 9 and 6, respectively, when they were found smothered in their beds after Murphy called Castle Rock police to report she had tried to kill herself and her children were “in heaven.”
The jury reached its verdict on what would have been Liam Murphy’s 11th birthday.
In his closing arguments, deputy district attorney Christopher Gallo painted a picture of a woman driven by control and frustrated by the thought of having to share custody of her children with her estranged husband, Eric Murphy.
“The woman was bent on control of her children, her husband, her divorce,” said Gallo. “It was Kelli’s way or no way. (Eric Murphy) was about to take that control away, he was about to divest her of the meaning of her life.”
According to court records, the couple was going through a divorce at the time of the children’s death. Court testimony and evidence showed that Kelli Murphy waited 12 hours after her children were dead before calling police. In their closing arguments, prosecutors pointed out that in the hours surrounding the murder of her children, she avoided contact with her estranged husband and barricaded the house.
Pivotal in the case was her obsession with control over her family, said Jay Williford, senior deputy district attorney.
“She would take nothing less than what she wanted,” he said. “This is poetic justice for us. Moms don’t kill their kids. This is a great tragedy for us and for the citizens in that neighborhood. We felt their grief. We heard their outcry.”
Eric Murphy was not in the courtroom when Kelli Murphy was sentenced. The family members who were present declined to comment during Kelli Murphy’s sentencing, which commenced immediately upon her conviction.
“Their level of grief is so high, they have nothing to say,” Williford said.