Local News

Friday, Feb 14 2014 04:28 PM

Report: Murder suspect researched inheritance law

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Geoff Edwin Murphy is charged with murder in the shooting death of his father. He has pleaded not guilty.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The family of Barbara Murphy made an unsettling discovery shortly after her 34-year-old son shot and killed her husband last year in a house they shared in northwest Bakersfield, according to police reports filed in the case.

A family member found files and documents on a computer in the home showing Geoff Edwin Murphy had been researching inheritance law and information on how to burn down a house. Barbara Murphy relayed the information to investigators, information suggesting Geoff Murphy had been exploring ways in which to kill her and her husband and collect their assets.

That information, included in a search warrant filed in court this week by Bakersfield police, provides a possible motive as to why Geoff Murphy allegedly threatened his parents Aug. 10, leading to a fight with his father that ended with him firing a single round into 74-year-old James Murphy's head. Geoff Murphy has pleaded not guilty to four felonies including murder.

More details on the websites Geoff Murphy was visiting were not included in the search warrant. Police said in the warrant that they seized the computer about a month after the killing.

Police reports say Murphy, 34, is bipolar and had become so unpredictable in the weeks leading up to the shooting that his parents set up a video recorder in the living room of their house in the 10900 block of Artist Court. The recorder captured the moments before James Murphy's death.

Geoff Murphy entered the living room and demanded his mother take him to a store, according to the reports. She refused, and Murphy threatened to "stomp" her to death, the reports say. He told her he was in charge and she was his prisoner.

Murphy then held a long lighter toward his mother and smacked her on the legs with it, the reports say. Having seen enough, James Murphy stood up and pulled a gun from his pocket.

Geoff Murphy mocked his father. James Murphy fired once, striking his son in the chest.

The reports say Geoff Murphy rushed his father and knocked him to the ground, beating him until he no longer resisted. He then shot him in the head.

The reports say Murphy can be heard on the recording saying, "Now you're dead, now you're dead, told ya."

When asked why he killed his father, Geoff Murphy told investigators his parents didn't respect him. He said he wouldn't have acted on his threats to hurt his mother.

Barbara Murphy told investigators her son had moved back in with her and her husband in June 2013. She said he has been diagnosed as bipolar, and it wasn't long before he began acting abusive toward them.

Murphy is being held on $1.5 million bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26.

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