Robin Murphy’s third attempt at parole to be heard today

BRIDGEWATER — Nearly a year after her bid for a new trial was denied by a superior court judge, the Fall River woman who has spent the past 23 years in prison for her role in the infamous “cult murders” will have her third chance at being released on parole today.

Robin Marie Murphy, 41, will have her chance to present her case for release this afternoon during her parole board hearing at the Old Colony Correctional Institution, said State Parole Board spokeswoman Tina Hurley.

Murphy was initially denied parole when she first became eligible in 1996.

Murphy has been in prison since accepting a second-degree murder plea bargain for the brutal slaying of 20-year-old Fall River resident Karen Marsden in 1980.

Hurley said the seven-member parole board will hold the hearing this afternoon and will likely take the matter under advisement before rendering a final written decision at a future date.

Murphy was a 17-year-old confessed prostitute at the time of Marsden’s murder.

She was able to bargain for a lifetime prison sentence with the possibility for parole after 15 years by becoming the state’s star witness in two other murder cases.

The murders of Marsden, Barbara Ann Raposa and Doreen Levesque received notoriety in New England due in large part to the perceived correlation between the murders and a satanic cult Murphy claimed was led by her co-defendant in the Marsden, murder, Carl Drew.

Murphy helped prosecutors convict Drew of the Marsden murder and Andre Maltais for the murder of Raposa.

Murphy told prosecutors at the time that she went along with Drew and another man the night they apparently took Marsden to a remote area of Westport near Family Beach.

She said she helped drag Marsden into the woods and later slit her throat while Drew decapitated Marsden.

Court documents from the initial trials also indicate the trio allegedly performed a cult-like anointing of the blood ceremony, took part in sex acts on the cadaver and kicked Marsden’s head around the woods.

No official connection between the murders and a satanic cult was ever made. In fact, Drew, in a prison interview last year, said there never was a cult and that Murphy likely made that up to make him look like the murderer.

Although most from Fall River at the time of the string of killings say Murphy and Drew were not close friends, their respective court battles have been inextricably tied to one another.

Drew, about four months after Murphy’s bid for a new day in court was rejected, filed his own motion seeking a new trial.

Murphy’s motion for new trial was based on her claims that her constitutional rights were violated when she was not given a proper explanation of second degree murder and when she would be released from prison.

Murphy is currently awaiting word from the state court of appeals regarding her appeal of the local judge’s decision to throw out her request for a new trial.

Drew, though, has been able to provide new evidence that may prove he is innocent of the Marsden murder through sworn witness affidavits and has already received positive news from a superior court judge handling the case. Drew will received an evidentiary hearing on his motion for a new trial later this year at which time the new evidence and witness testimony will be taken to determine if a new trial is justified.

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