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November 30th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Kelli Murphy was convicted Tuesday of murdering her two children, Liam age nine and Madigan, age six.  The Castle Rock, Colorado woman killed her two children back on May 23, 2011 by smothering them.  She then slit her wrists and called 911.  Prosecutors always claimed she killed the children to keep her ex-husband from getting custody of them, and the evidence they produced in court pretty much guarantees that was her motive.  The trial lasted two weeks; the jury took two hours to convict her of both counts and the judge immediately sentenced her to serve two consecutive life terms in prison.

Here’s one article on her conviction (WPTV, 11/28/12).  I first wrote about the case here.

Murphy’s lawyer claimed she committed the crime while under the influence of prescription medication and vodka.  According to that theory, she had no understanding of what she was doing.  The jury didn’t buy it for a couple of very good reasons.  The first is that expert testimony showed that a person who kills another the way Murphy killed Liam and Madigan has to be in possession of her faculties and for a significant period of time.  The fact is that it takes a long time to kill someone by smothering them, and two people twice as long.

Far more telling is the fact that Murphy had just received some documents from her custody case against her ex-husband, the father of Liam and Madigan.  They were still on the counter in her kitchen when the police arrived. On them Murphy had written the words “Was it worth it?”  That of course was a message to her ex to the effect that his efforts to get custody had come at the cost of his children’s lives.  No wonder the jury barely had time to read their instructions before unanimously deciding her guilt.

“Her intent was to control the divorce and the kids,” Deputy District Attorney Christopher Gallo said during closing arguments. “The defendant was bent on control. It was Kelli’s way or no way.”

I find it interesting that the jury was so receptive to that argument.  Given the timing of the children’s murder and the words Murphy wrote, it’s clear why she killed them, but I call it progress that the jury was able to set aside the pro-mother bias we so often see when crimes like this are committed.  The more we see mothers treated like everyone else, the better it will be for children, fathers and the judicial system generally.  Blatant bias for or against anyone ill serves the cause of justice, so it’s good to see a jury look past that and weigh the evidence rationally.

Now, it’s true that I’ve yet to read a piece about this tragedy that called Murphy’s actions domestic violence, even though it clearly was.  Nor has any article pointed out that mothers kill about twice as many children each year as do fathers.  And of course no one’s mentioned that mothers do twice the abuse and neglect generally as do fathers.  All of those facts are readily available to anyone with a computer and Internet access.  A seven-minute trip to the website of the Administration for Children and Families of the United States Department of Health and Human Services will bring the data to anyone who wants to know it.

That of course is the point – not a lot of reporters seem to want to know pertinent facts about mothers, fathers and children.  The linked-to article isn’t explicitly pro-mother, but it makes no effort to provide valuable context for Kelli Murphy’s heinous crimes.  Still, the jury saw clearly enough.

Will Those Opposed to Fathers’ Equal Rights Notice Kelli Murphy’s Murder of Her Children?

That’s more than I can say for that part of the anti-father crowd that claims, virtually without evidence, that “abusive fathers” routinely get custody of their children.  As I’ve mentioned before, the fact that that particularly loony splinter group can come up with no more than one actual case in which that’s happened deters them not in the least.  Neither does the fact that fathers rarely get any kind of custody at all beyond the standard-issue five days a month visitation.  And of course neither do the data patiently compiled year after year by the ACF.

What those anti-dad folks also fail to notice is that, of all those mothers recorded by state child welfare agencies across the country abusing their children, a lot of them are custodial mothers, i.e. not married but with custody of their children.  As such they, like Kelli Murphy, qualify as exactly what the anti-dad crowd pretends to inveigh against – abusive parents getting custody.  But they only complain about fathers; when it comes to abusive mothers, they’re as quiet as, well, the grave.

Kelli Murphy could be the poster-girl for such a campaign, but she won’t be.  That’s because the astonishingly misnamed “Center for Judicial Excellence” and others of their ilk care little about the welfare of children and much about maintaining maternal hegemony in family courts.

Sole maternal custody does not promote children’s well-being; on the contrary, it tends to prevent it.  Children do best with two parents whether during marriage or after.  Those who obstruct the relationship between a child and its father oppose the best interests of children.  It’s time everyone admitted that simple, basic truth.

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