Triple murder trial of Roy Murry may hinge on experts

November 17, 2016 GMT

The triple murder trial of Roy H. Murry began Wednesday with attorneys explaining his anti-government views, his penchant for guns and the military training that made him capable of carrying out the attack inside a Colbert home.

Jack Driscoll, chief deputy Spokane County Prosecutor, told the jury of eight women and four men that investigators say Murry had been working with a Washington State University researcher on a new gun lubricant and that investigators found traces of a similar compound on the .22-caliber shell casings used in the killings.

When investigators searched the 31-year-old Iraq War veteran’s car after he was arrested, they found a vial of the lubricant, Driscoll said.

Driscoll acknowledged that investigators don’t have the murder weapon, any witnesses to the crime or a confession. Both he and defense attorneys indicated that the only physical evidence that could link Murry to the crime scene is the remnants of the lubricant found on the casisngs.

Driscoll also described how Murry’s wife, Amanda Murry, said the suspect had become more paranoid and delusional and had accused her of working as a Russian spy.

“Amanda Murry knew that she could not be the one who asked for a divorce,” Driscoll said. “The state will show you she was right to be concerned.”

Driscoll also suggested the breakup as a potential motive. On the day before the killings, Murry finally suggested that the couple get divorced and Amanda agreed. That divorce became final this week, unbeknownst to defense attorneys.

Murry’s attorney, Spokane County Public Defender Thomas Krzyminski,said he intends to challenge the state’s evidence about the lubricants. He noted that Murry was contacted at his apartment in Lewiston by police a short time after the killings took place.

“The state wants to disregard evidence and focus on the fact that it has to be Mr. Murry,” he said. “The state has to show there is actual physical evidence … that he carried out these terrible acts.

“I believe that when you hold the state to their burden of proof … the only verdicts you will come back with are: Not guilty.”

Murry faces three counts of aggravated murder and first-degree arson in connection to the deaths of Lisa Canfield, 52; her husband, Terrance “Terry” Canfield, 59, who was a 28-year Spokane firefighter; and Lisa Canfield’s son, 23-year-old John Constable.

Firefighters discovered the charred remains of all three on May 26, 2015, inside their home at 20 E. Chattaroy Road in Colbert.

Investigators found DNA evidence on the spout of a gasoline can at the scene. They also found DNA under the fingernails of Lisa Canfield. While some of the evidence was too miniscule to get a comparison, none of the DNA evidence was linked to Murry.

Krzyminski acknowledged that his client exercised his right to carry guns, and he trained in self-defense. But he said the state hasn’t provided convincing evidence that Murry committed the crimes.

“He’s not a huge fan of the government,” Krzyminski said. “This made people uncomfortable, especially Amanda Murry’s family. But you will not hear of any aggressive actions by Mr. Murry. It was not in his nature.”

Amanda Murry, who was separated and now divorced from Murry, was living in the home and Driscoll described how she reacted when she came home later than usual to find emergency crews fighting two fires.

She was still in her scrubs from her job as a nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center when she learned her mother had been killed. She “collapsed right there in a puddle of water,” Driscoll said.

All of the victims had been shot and killed prior to the fire. Lisa Canfield was discovered with cloth tied around her head and in her mouth. Terry Canfield’s limbs had been incinerated where his body was located in the barn, which also was set ablaze. Constable was found face down in the kitchen area.

Investigators found a trail of fire where they believe the killer poured gasoline between bodies in the home, and another area of gas in the barn. All locations of the gas-fueled fire were started at or near the bodies.

Lisa Canfield also was found near an unopened box containing an unloaded handgun. Some $3,000 in cash was found in Amanda Murry’s dresser, but the .38 caliber handgun that Roy Murry had given her was missing, Driscoll said.

The prosecutor told the jury that once they hear all of the evidence, which is scheduled to take four to six weeks, he expects them to find that Murry carried out the premeditated murder of the Canfields and John Constable “and that he was laying in wait with the intent to murder (Amanda Murry) and burn down the house.”