Man takes guilty plea in murder case

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BURDETTE, Ark. – In a tiny courthouse surrounded by miles of open fields in a community of barely 110 people, a Mississippi County man admitted his guilt in a murder Friday morning.

Granville Murphy, 28, of Blytheville, was sentenced to 360 months in prison by Judge Cindy Thyer on Friday after she accepted his guilty plea to first degree murder. In a voice too quiet to hear at times, Murphy told the court he made mistakes and he admitted fault.

Murphy noted that he didn’t commit the murder, personally. He said he drove two juveniles to commit a robbery. When he picked them up, one of the teens said he had shot a victim. It wasn’t clear to the suspects if they had killed a man, Murphy said, but they did. Terry Marshall died at the hospital. It was murder.

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But Murphy noted to the court that he didn’t take the right actions after this happened, including by not reporting the incident to police.

Murphy faced up to 80 consecutive years in prison, both with this charge and a recent conviction on aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 15 years in that case. By taking the plea, he will serve 30 years for the murder with 15 for the robbery running concurrently.

Another 20 years of suspended sentencing was added to Murphy’s punishments.

Murphy’s public defender, Chet Dunlap, told NEA Report he was very satisfied with the plea arrangement. Negotiations between Dunlap and Deputy Prosecutors Curtis Walker and Gina Knight lasted up until the moment the case was to be heard by Judge Thyer.

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Dunlap had planned to ask for a change of venue based on a variety of reasons, including one that had NEA Report subpoenaed to court. A press release written by the prosecutors office and posted by our organization unfairly biased the potential jury pool, Dunlap planned to argue. He also took issue with the courthouse being literally surrounded by cotton fields, telling a reporter it was unfair for a black man to face justice in a setting such as this. Although Dunlap said the prosecutors laughed at his request, he intended to argue the point in court until Friday’s plea bargain.

Murphy will receive credit for 271 days served in jail.

“I appreciate Curtis and Gina’s hard work in getting this case ready for trial,” said Second Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington to NEA Report.

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