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Murphy v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

July 12, 2018

Timothy Vincent Murphy
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Lauderdale Circuit Court (CC-16-228)

          WINDOM, Presiding Judge.

         Timothy Vincent Murphy appeals his conviction for attempted murder, see §§ 13A-6-2 and 13A-4-2, Ala. Code 1975. The circuit court sentenced Murphy to 99 years in prison.

         On February 1, 2016, Murphy choked his mother, Janice Murphy, until she was unconscious and then put a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself. On February 2, 2016, Murphy threatened to mutilate his father, Vincent Murphy, and to kill himself. On February 3, 2016, Vincent filed a petition to have Murphy involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility. After conducting a hearing, the probate court found probable cause to order Murphy to be confined at a mental-health hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

         Later, Deputy Randall McCrary, Sergeant Kent Sims, and Sergeant Tim Ray went to the Murphy residence to effectuate the commitment order. When Murphy saw the officers approach the house, he said, "Oh, hell no. I'm not going," ran into the house, and locked himself in a bedroom. (R. 194.) The officers entered the house and talked to Murphy through the door. Despite the officers' requests for Murphy to open the bedroom door, he refused and insisted that the officers were there to kill him. The officers repeatedly assured Murphy that they were there only to help him. Murphy, however, still refused to open the door and claimed that he would only "come out in a body bag." (R. 198.) At that point, officers decided to force their way through the bedroom door. As soon as the officers opened the bedroom door, Murphy fired at the officers and Deputy McCrary returned fire. In the exchange, Deputy McCrary and Murphy were both shot.

         In accordance with the commitment order issued by the probate court, Dr. David Anakwenze, a psychiatrist at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, evaluated Murphy's mental condition. After evaluating Murphy, Dr. Anakwenze sent a letter to the probate court, recommending that Murphy remain at the hospital for further treatment:

"Timothy Murphy was admitted to Renaissance Center for Emotional Health at ECM Hospital on 0/02/2016 [sic] under a court petition filed by his father.
"Timothy Murphy is mentally ill. He is diagnosed with Schizophrenia Disorder, paranoid type. Mr. Murphy was admitted to the psychiatric unit after being medically stabilized at Huntsville Hospital due to a gunshot wound attained in an altercation with law enforcement officers.
"Timothy Murphy is mentally ill, currently diagnosed with Schizophrenia Disorder, paranoid type. Mr. Murphy is unable to make rational and informed decisions as to whether or not treatment for mental illness would be desirable, as he continues to evidence paranoia, delusions, and thought blocking and appears to still be responding to external stimuli. The patient will, if not treated, continue to suffer mental distress and will continue to experience deterioration in the ability to function independently. As a result of his mental illness, Mr. Murphy poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to himself and/or others. I recommend Probable Cause be found and that Mr. Murphy remain at ECM for further stabilization and treatment."

(C. 28.) On April 11, 2016, the probate court issued an order for further commitment.

         In the meantime, Murphy was charged with attempted murder, see §§ 13A-4-2; 13A-6-2, Ala. Code 1975, for shooting Deputy McCrary.[1] Murphy pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Murphy also moved the court for a mental evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial. The circuit court granted Murphy's motion, and Dr. Glenn King, a forensic psychologist, evaluated Murphy.

         During his evaluation, Dr. King found Murphy to be competent to stand trial and sane at the time of the offense. The circuit court then held a hearing on Murphy's competency to stand trial and determined that Murphy was competent. Murphy disputed Dr. King's findings and moved the court for funds for an independent mental-health evaluation. The circuit court held a hearing on Murphy's motion for funds for an independent mental evaluation. At the hearing, the State argued that Murphy had been evaluated by Dr. King and that he was not entitled to another evaluation. The circuit court agreed with the State and denied Murphy's motion.

         At trial, Dr. King testified for the State regarding his finding that Murphy was not suffering from any mental disease or defect at the time of the offense. Murphy attempted to rebut Dr. King's testimony and establish that he was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect by presenting testimony from Will Motlow, the probate judge who had ordered his commitment; Dr. Anakwenze; and his mother. Although each of Murphy's witnesses had reason to believe that he suffered from mental defects, none had evaluated him for sanity at the time of the offense. See (R. 601) (Dr. Anakwenze stating that he had not evaluated Murphy to determine whether Murphy knew right from wrong). After hearing all the evidence and being instructed by the circuit court, the jury found Murphy guilty of attempted murder. The circuit court adjudicated Murphy guilty and sentenced him to 99 years in prison.

         Thereafter, Murphy filed a motion for a new trial. In his motion, Murphy ...


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