I am a Killer (2018) s02e06 Episode Script

Pyro Joe

It's something that I've never intended to do, I wish I didn't do.
If there was anything I could do to change it, I would.
But there's obviously not.
I was kind of happy to be on death row.
Because I was treated better than I was at home.
But I wish it wouldn't have took a victim to get me sent there.
I pray to her every day and ask God to watch over her soul and to take care of her.
And I know that she's watching over and seeing me as well.
[man 1.]
This is a true story.
I'll start it off like that.
[man 2.]
I just wanted to rebel.
I wanted to cause chaos.
I looked over at him.
"We'll see who kills who, huh?" [woman.]
I made the choice.
I took his life.
[man 3.]
It's something that I've never intended to do, I wish I didn't do.
[man 4.]
I knew I was gonna get out of that car and murder those two men.
[man 5.]
As he kneeled in front of me, all I remember is pulling the trigger.
[man 6.]
I'd killed them both.
I'd stabbed them to death.
Hi, Joe.
Do you think you could just drop this down your shirt? Just this front shirt.
My name is Joseph Murphy.
Number 199042.
I am incarcerated in Ohio correctional facility.
Our home in Clay County, West Virginia, was a tar-paper shack.
All it was was tar paper wrapped around two-by-fours.
And that's where we lived at.
We had three rooms, which was a living room, kitchen and one bedroom for a family of eight.
My mother, she come from a family of 17 siblings and she wanted out of the house that she was in, so she got pregnant at an early age and married my father, Jerry Murphy.
And they just kept having kids.
They never had no income or no plans.
We had no water, no electricity.
No gas, no phone.
We would get water from the creek.
And to use the bathroom, we would urinate and drop feces in gallon jugs or gallon cans and they would be laid throughout the home.
The sort of person my father was was, if I didn't see him drunk if I'd ever seen him sober, I would think something was wrong with him, because I've always known him to be under the influence of alcohol and he was abusive when he was drunk.
He didn't care.
My parents always said I was retarded, but I didn't know what it meant.
I just thought that it was something to do with the way I was.
My mother was receiving a social security check for mental retardation.
I was never allowed to play with the other siblings.
My mother told them that I was sick and, if they played with me or talked to me, they would end up sick too.
So she wouldn't let them talk to me or play with me, so I was always alone.
But sometimes, my sister would steal a can of apple sauce from the kitchen and take it up on the hill and bust it open on a rock and feed it to me, just because my mother wouldn't feed me.
She would always try to make sure that I didn't die of starvation or something.
The place where I would normally sleep was at the foot of my mother's bed and tied down to the bed.
I always thought that that was normal.
At one point, my social worker bought me a bunch of clothes.
And she bought a big trunk to keep them in.
And we went home and my mother did what she always does.
She got everything and gave it away to the other kids so they would look nice going to school.
And she put the trunk at the foot of her bed and put me in it.
That way, she knew I couldn't get out at night time and run around or do anything.
Little did she know, that was more comfortable than sleeping on the floor.
My social worker would come to the house regularly to make sure that I was okay.
And, one day, my mom beat me really bad and I had blood marks on my back and my back of my legs and she told my father, she said, "You have to fix this, 'cause she's gonna be here tomorrow, she's gonna see it and she's gonna take Joey away and we won't get his check this month.
" So my dad said he would take care of it and he took me out back.
And he tied me down to a set of box springs.
And after he'd had me tied down, he put gasoline on my back and set me on fire.
And I was screaming bloody murder, because it burnt so bad.
Growing up, I was in 17 different institutions in four different states.
I was sexually abused whenever I went to the institutions that I was in.
I thought it was something that everyone deals with and puts up with.
I was happy to be in the institutions that I was in, because they fed me, they clothed me and I wasn't getting beat every day and I was able to eat.
They would have me stay there for a while.
And the judge would release me back to my mother and father.
My family would never keep in contact with me in any of the facilities I was in.
And they moved without telling me that they had ever moved.
When we moved to Marion, Ohio our house had a bathroom in it for the very first time.
It was a nice city.
And a lot of times, at night time, I would just walk the streets just to get a peace of mind, to escape the abuse.
One time, my mother said that she was going to whup me and I accidentally set a stack of clothes on fire.
And it set the kitchen on fire, which engulfed and caught the wall on fire.
And here comes a bunch of fire trucks and police.
The sirens was going and the lights was flashing.
[sirens wail.]
We had to go stay somewhere else and I realized that my mother had forgot to beat me.
So I learned from an early age, if I set a fire, I'm not gonna get beat.
After that, I believe I was sent to a institution and they was running tests on me and said that I was a pyromaniac.
But that wasn't the case at all.
No one really knew why I always set the fires.
[warning bell rings.]
[horn blares.]
My brother-in-law told me, if we can get her to the Columbus Hospital, then she could make it, 'cause they would take better care of her.
So he said that we needed to go somewhere and do a crash and grab.
Just grab something and then run out.
And he came up with the, um, item as being a VCR.
And I told him, I said, "I know someone that has one.
I believe she has one.
" And he said, "Who?" And I said, "Ruth Predmore.
" The lady that we had done odd jobs for before.
So we went down to the house.
And he was trying the back door and I was trying the front door.
I was thinking, "If she's in there, she's gonna hear us.
She might call the police.
" So I took a knife out of my pocket and went beside the house to cut the phone line.
But when I went back onto the porch, to the door, Ruth Predmore was there and she said, "What are you doing? Get away from here!" And it startled me and I was scared, so I just swung the knife and I ran.
About two hours later, I went back to the house.
And I was walking really slow and scared, not knowing what to expect.
And when I went to the front door, I opened it real slow and I could see her body was laying on the floor.
I was scared.
But I still was in need of helping my sister, so that's why I proceeded to go through the house and get what I thought was of value and then exit out the back door.
[distant dog barking.]
Miss Predmore should have never died at my hands.
She was a very sweet, caring, generous, giving person and I'm very remorseful for what I had done.
And it should have never happened.
During the trial, we had caseworkers and social workers come to trial to give testimony.
And that's when I realized that, "Okay, what I went through, that's not normal.
It's not right and now I'm gonna be sentenced to death, not even knowing what a real family is like.
" [birds singing.]
They call it "The Little Chicago," because Chicago is full of drugs and gangs and stuff.
Now, Marion it's ended up that way, too.
This is the bar I got my teeth knocked out at.
And Miss Predmore, the lady he killed, lived right here.
The little house right there.
I'm Michael Murphy.
I'm Joey Murphy's brother.
I'm I'm the youngest out of the six kids.
[birds chirping.]
When we moved from West Virginia to Marion, we we changed worlds.
Down in West Virginia, you had a bunch of hillbillies.
Up here, you had a bunch of different types of people.
People you don't run into in West Virginia.
And everybody always picked on us because we had a hillbilly accent or we never had no good shoes, no good clothes, no nothing.
My dad was an alcoholic.
When he couldn't get no alcohol, he would literally go to the bathroom and get a bottle of rubbing alcohol and take a couple swigs of it and get sick, but keep drinking it.
We could spend $100 for a microwave and, the next day, it would be missing for a $2 bottle of wine.
Joey was a troubled kid, really.
I mean he would get in trouble.
Stealing or whatever.
And he'd get sent away.
Six months at a time, a year at a time.
I just wanted him to stay home, but he never did.
He would catch a fire or He killed a dog.
He killed my dog, Snoopy, when we lived in West Virginia.
Um Threw it out in front of a truck.
Another time, I walked up on the mountain and he had another dog sitting there hanging.
And he'd get whippings for it.
And that didn't do nothing to Joey.
He didn't cry.
He'd look at her and say, "I'm still gonna do it.
" There were multiple fires going on in Marion.
A whole bunch of just buildings getting burnt down.
And it was all over the newspapers about an arsonist being in Marion and it turned out it was him.
From what was told to me, it was I liked candy when I was a kid.
He liked fire.
Joey asked me, "If you was gonna try to rob somebody, what would you do?" I said, "I wouldn't do it.
I'd put a note on their door saying, 'Give me all your money and leave it in a brown paper bag.
'" [laughs.]
That's what he did.
He left her a note saying, "Leave all your money.
Leave it in a brown paper bag.
" And she didn't, and then he went in and killed her.
I can't see an action of surprise to slice somebody's throat.
And the lady was nice to me.
I would go down and mow her yard every week, shovel her sidewalk every week.
She'd pay me, I'd walk her groceries back from the store.
She You know, she's like a grandma to me and when that happened, I was just I didn't know how to act.
You know, I loved the woman and my brother did it.
So it's kind of hard [chuckles.]
to deal with your brother and somebody you considered like a grandma.
My name's Wayne Creasap.
I'm a retired police officer for the City of Marion.
[background chatter.]
Once we determined what was taken from the residence and, uh, then canvassing the neighborhood the name came up real quick.
Joe Murphy was very well known to the law enforcement community in Marion County.
A lot of the officers, uh, referred to Joe Murphy as "Pyro Joe".
In his younger days, he liked to play with fire.
He was known to set small animals on fire.
A small-time thief.
Just liked to get in trouble.
Joseph Murphy resided just a few houses down from Mrs.
Predmore and it was determined that he had written a note to Mrs.
Predmore the day before her body was discovered.
And, uh, the note basically said, "You are to leave your money out or I will kill you.
" When the money wasn't put out there, then he followed through with his threat.
[indistinct chatter.]
It's been a long time since I've seen these.
I still see her, uh lying there on the floor like that, uh in my mind.
It sticks there like a photograph forever.
This was a very, very horrific crime.
I don't feel that it was a case where he accidentally tried to harm her in an act of surprise.
Uh, it's apparent that he stood behind her.
The cut on her throat was so deep it darn near took her head off.
It was just hanging on by a thread.
So, you know, there was a lot of force.
You know, standing behind someone and pulling that knife in and spinning her around and cutting her throat.
I can't say I had any sympathy for Joe.
People had tried to work with him over the years, through children's services, trying to get him turned around, trying to get him away from doing, you know, criminal activity, trying to help him, trying to help the family.
You can only be helped if you want to be helped.
My name is Linda Richter and I am a mitigation specialist here in the state of Ohio.
My job is explaining how someone's background can mitigate against a horrible crime.
Uh, to let the jury see that these people have been victimized themselves long before they victimized anyone else.
I think that Joey's was probably one of the most impoverished and emotionally-sterile backgrounds I had come across.
The cleanliness of the house was awful.
Roaches, animals.
Animal feces.
It smelled.
This was all in Marion.
I mean, this was a step up from where they had come.
Um, because we knew this family had been rooted historically in south central West Virginia with a very high poverty level.
And we took these pictures because I wanted people to understand that this really was no more than a tar-paper shack.
I mean, we're talking a poverty that I had never experienced or seen in my lifetime.
The psychologists that worked with us on this case thought that, because of the amount of rage that Joey was exhibiting in setting fires and killing animals, that he most likely had been sexually abused.
And that was the fuel for a lot of the rage that spills out in these kind of impulsive, not well-thought-out murders.
I was devastated when the jury returned a death verdict.
I just did not feel that Joey was the worst of the worst.
I thought Joey needed to be in prison.
But I did not see that taking Joey's life was doing anything but victimizing him one more time.
Even though he committed a horrendous crime.
The first time I remember being sexually abused, it was a black man in Clay County.
He made alcohol for the residents around.
He was called a moonshiner.
And my dad loved going there, getting drunk, and, one day, he took me with him.
And we went to a bus that was abandoned beside the road, and that's where, um, Al lived at, who made the moonshine.
And my dad took me in the bus and said he wanted some alcohol and Al said he don't have none.
And my dad said, "Well, I've got my son here and you can have your way with him.
Just give me a jug of alcohol.
" So Al took me to the back of the bus where they had a mattress and he undressed me.
And I wasn't thinking anything of it and then he got undressed and laid me on the mattress and got on top of me and raped me anally.
And I was screaming for my dad, "Please help me, Dad.
He's hurting me, help me.
" And he just sat in a chair, drinking his alcohol and acting like he couldn't even hear me.
And then after he grunted like a pig and got off of me, I ran out of the bus and ran home butt naked.
And it was about a half a mile away.
And when I got home, I was yelling, "Mom, help me, help me!" And then, whenever I got to the house, she come out on the porch and she said, "What's wrong?" And I said, "He hurt me, he hurt me.
" And then Mom took me in the house and whupped me, because she thought I was playing in the creek and took my clothes off and got cut by glass that was in the creek and that's why I had blood on my buttocks and the back of my legs.
At this time when this happened, I was six years old.
[birds singing.]
I've heard that story before.
And it just makes me as sad as it did the first time.
I can't imagine feeling so betrayed and so helpless by the one person in your life who's supposed to be there to protect you and love you and keep you safe.
Um All for some moonshine.
I mean, when you're traumatized like that as a child your sense of safety, your sense of security, your sense of any humanity is shattered.
I don't know how anyone at that young age goes through that kind of a violent act perpetrated on them and then relates to the world normally.
Because now the world isn't normal anymore.
It's a hostile and mean and scary place.
I'm Kathryn Sandford.
I am a public defender in the death penalty department and I do capital appeals for my clients.
These are five boxes of, I think, 15 probably that we have.
This is just for Joey.
I had not read or seen a background as horrible as his.
All that he went through and just what a horrible situation it was.
There was no doubt that Joey had committed the murder.
So we were not trying to get him a new trial.
We were trying to get him a new sentence.
I do believe that someone with that background cannot be judged at the same standard as someone who does not have that background, that there is a difference there.
We started working on his clemency case roughly eight to ten months prior to the execution date.
I do remember thinking that if he was executed that I didn't know if I would be able to continue doing this work.
Because I thought there really is no justice then.
There's me with my glasses.
Buddy with his checkered pants.
Jerry is his real name.
Drema, Darris, David, Mom and Joey.
Mom would whip you with a belt or a switch.
Back in the seventies, that's how everybody was punished, I guess.
You've got to learn your lesson.
A lot of kids don't get punished and you can see the big difference in the way they act compared to somebody that gets punished and the way they act.
But him, I don't know.
It's It's like I remember him telling stories.
Majority of the time, they're not true, but there's some truth-ness to it.
My dad said he'll take care of it and he took me out back.
And he tied me down to a set of box springs and, after he'd had me tied down, he put gasoline on my back and set me on fire.
And I was screaming bloody murder because it burnt so bad.
Now, I remember the fire on him.
Everybody was in the living room.
He was in the bedroom.
Nobody tied him down.
He caught himself on fire.
Nobody else was even in the room.
He, uh He scared everybody.
Mom took him to the emergency room.
But I recall, plain as day.
He's been saying that since the trial.
That was his defense to get off of death row.
My dad took me in the bus and said he wanted some alcohol and Al said he don't have none and my dad said, "Well, I got my son here and you can have your way with him.
Just give me a jug of alcohol.
" [Michael.]
The truth, wasn't nothing to do with him.
My dad did take Darris to Charleston.
Not to Al's.
And sold him to a whorehouse.
Left him there.
Went home.
But Joey confused Dad trading Darris for wine or whiskey for him.
You see what I'm saying? He's taking two stories and combining them together to make it look like him.
But Darris has Dad did sell him for some whiskey.
If some of this stuff was true it makes me feel even sorrier for him.
It saddens me.
I mean, he's my brother.
I love him.
I wouldn't have been able to deal with it.
I would have ended up hurting somebody myself.
My name is Michael Gelbort.
I'm a clinical neuropsychologist.
Joey Murphy is a case that I became involved in because his attorney, Kathy Sandford, was looking for an assessment of who this guy is, how he functions.
Joey will pass the test.
He can look reasonably normal.
But in terms of understanding nuance or subtlety um, more complex issues if you took 100 people and lined them up from smartest to least intelligent, he would be way at the back of the line.
There were stories told, um about his father, who was apparently a very significant alcoholic um, lending Joey to other people in exchange for alcohol.
Everything that Joey said I'm not going to believe hook, line and sinker.
On the other hand, it was consistent enough, and it also goes with his behavior that I suspect, by and large, it's it's accurate.
And I'm pretty comfortable saying that the history of abuse he relates is pretty much on target.
It's actually very common for family members to report a different history.
You know, it would be one thing if Joey's brother said, "That never happened.
My father would never do such a thing.
That's not the kind of man he was.
" But the fact that his brother says it happened, it just wasn't to Joey, it's like, okay, he's establishing that the father is the sort of person who could do such a thing.
Who's to say it didn't happen to Joey, too? Who's to say it didn't happen to Joey then? But, at the very least, you know, the brother's confirming that, "Yes, Father would do such a thing.
" It's not about whether or not we feel sorry for the individual.
But rather that maybe he didn't have the ability, based on his upbringing.
Maybe he didn't have the capacity to do better than he did.
I'm of the opinion we come into the world blank slates and the training we have from those around us is pretty important in determining which way we'll go.
This is not a psychopath.
This is not someone who is out to kill people.
This is someone who was a victim himself in many ways.
And I know there are those who "You know, sure, he was a victim, but still he shouldn't go killing.
" It's not that his background made him kill anyone.
It's not that anyone who has this background absolutely will kill someone.
But they're eminently more likely.
They have less opportunity to stay out of trouble or to to act in a socially appropriate way.
They're closer to the edge, if you will, and some of them fall over the edge.
He fell over the edge.
We had all this material ready to present at Joey's clemency hearing.
But you never know what the board is going to recommend.
You never know what the governor is going to actually do.
But some years prior, I had read an article where the victim's niece said she had never heard from Joey.
She didn't know if he was sorry.
So I thought, "We need to reach out to her.
" And then she and Joey ended up meeting for offender and, um, victim family dialogue.
If we could have a victim's family member say that he or she did not support execution of our client, that would that would be huge.
So the federal public defender had someone go and videotape Miss Kavanagh.
And we received the video the night before the clemency hearing.
When I first met him, I was looking to see a hard-nosed criminal.
[Miss Kavanagh.]
But then, after learning about Joey's past life and how abusive it was, I came away from there feeling that our system has let him down terribly.
As it also let my aunt down.
When Miss Kavanagh first met with Joey, she was of the view that he should be executed.
But during her meeting with him, her mind changed.
Do you want Joey executed? - No.
- Why not? I feel that he's very I feel that he is remorseful.
And I do feel that he could be of use somewhere.
And I want the board to know how angry I am at the whole system itself.
And what it's done to my family.
What it's done to Joey and his family.
It wasn't just Joey being on death row these 25 years.
I sat on death row and so did my family.
My visit with Peg Kavanagh, the victim's niece was very emotional.
I just started crying and she started crying and she said, "Honey, your parents should be the ones locked up.
Not you.
" And then we really embraced each other and it was a true, honest, love, forgiveness hug and it made us both cry even more.
And, um she took part in getting me off of death row.
I was within my last 30 days of life.
So I was isolated from everyone.
And the warden came and he said, uh "Murphy, we've got something for you.
" I said, "Okay.
What's up?" He said, "The governor granted clemency.
" And I almost just wanted to fall down and start crying and he said, "Murphy, I don't want no hug.
" I said, "Okay.
" [laughs.]
After that, he asked me do I want to call my attorney and I said, "Yeah, I need to.
" And from the sounds of it, there was a room full of people at the Ohio Public Defender's office.
They was all in there celebrating.
She said, "We did it.
We finally did it.
It was worth fighting for.
" And it was as tearful for her as it was for me, because she had worked really hard to get me off of death row.
It was very emotional and overwhelming that finally people care.
A lot of times, I would walk on the walkways in the prison yard and just look at the sky and walk through the grass and give thanks to God that I'm there and that I'm alive and somehow is there a way that I can make a difference? Now I actually have a life.
So, given that chance, I'm doing everything that I can possibly do to make that chance count for something and to do something constructive and meaningful.
Making friends with inmates, understanding their problems and trying to help them.
Hi, Duf.
This is the dorm cat, Duf.
Nicknamed for Andy Dufresne from the movie Shimshom Redemption.
- [meows.]
- And he's our dorm cat.
We rescued him when he was four days old, almost frozen to the ground.
And he likes to stay around the shoulders.
[Joey chuckles.]
A lot of people relieve stress and anger from playing with him and interacting with him and it's just comforting to go up and play with a cat or watch him outside playing around in the grass or chasing birds.
If I was to ever leave prison, it would be God's will and it would be something that he wanted.
But, for myself, I am content just living a life in prison, because I've adapted to prison.
I accept this punishment.
And I'm okay with it.

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