A life sentence in Marsden case

A Fall River teenager who pleaded guilty to a murder that reportedly may have been related to the activities of a satanic cult was given a life sentence yesterday to the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Framingham.

Bristol County Superior Court Judge August C. Taveira in New Bedford imposed the mandatory sentence on Robin Marie Murphy, 18. Murphy and two men were charged in the killing of 20-year-old Karen Marsden of Fall River last February in a wooded section of Westport.

In April, a skull, woman’s clothing, and clumps of hair believed to be those of Marsden were found. Murphy had been Marsden’s roommate.

Marsden reportedly told Fall River police shortly before her disappearance that she was a member of a cult whose members were pimps and prostitutes operating on Bedford street in that city.

Fall River police have said that several prostitutes came to them in November 1979 after two women were reported missing and later found dead. Police said they were told that the cult existed and that they had been present at devil-worshipping rituals in Freetown State Forest and in a Fall River housing project.

Assistant Dist. Atty. David H. Waxler saidMurphy, who had pleaded innocent to a charge of first-degree murder, was allowed to change her plea to guilty to second-degree murder because she had agreed to testify against the two men, Carl Drew and Carl Davis, both 26 and both of Fall River. Their trial is scheduled for February.

Murphy’s lawyer, Kenneth L. Sullivan of Fall River, had said Monday that his client had been unduly influenced by the co-defendants and had been under the influence of a satanic cult.

The commonwealth moved to exclude that evidence as not admissible under Massachusetts law, and the court concurred.

According to Waxler, the commonwealth’s position was that the Murphy case remained a first-degree murder case and that the exclusive reason she was allowed to plea to the lesser charge was that she had agreed to testify against Drew and Davis. Murphy will be eligible for parole after 15 years.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Raymond Veary said yesterday that Murphy will also be called as witness in the case of Andre O. Maltais, 44, of Fall River, accused of murdering Barbara Ann Raposa, 19, of Fall River in a secluded area in Fall River’s south end in November 1979. Marsden had been a witness at the probable cause hearing of Maltais.

A jury of 15 was impaneled yesterday in the Maltais case and will visit the scene of the Raposa murder tomorrow.

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