BRIDGEWATER — During her latest State Parole Board reconsideration hearing Tuesday, convicted “cult murderer” Robin Marie Murphy portrayed herself as an innocent woman who lied on the stand and eventually gave up her freedoms in the interest of justice by helping to convict Carl Drew of Karen Marsden’s 1980 murder.
Murphy, 41, of Fall River, has been serving a life sentence since accepting a plea bargain for the second-degree murder of Marsden, a former Fall River prostitute who was among two others to be brutally murdered over a two-year time span from 1979 to 1980.
Marsden’s body has never been recovered.
The six-member board will reconvene in executive session in the near future to determine if Murphy should be released from prison after serving the past 24 years for a murder she now says she never committed.
Murphy — 24 years ago — told a fantastic tale of satanic cult rituals being at the center of the string of murders and she eventually became the prosecution’s star witness in its successful effort to convict Drew of first-degree murder in the Marsden case and Andre Maltais for the murder of teenage prostitute Barbara Ann Raposa.
She told police and prosecutors at the time that she was present at both murders and described in graphic detail how she and Drew dragged Marsden from a car into a wooded section of Westport where they slit her throat, performed oral sex on her dead body and used her decapitated head as a soccer ball.
But during Tuesday’s parole board reconsideration hearing at the Old Colony Corrections Center, she said she lied about everything including being present at any murder.
When asked why she allegedly made up the gory details of the murder, she said she did it because she believed Drew was a devil worshipper and was responsible for Marsden’s murder.
“I believe Carl Drew was guilty of killing Karen and many, many other women in the area,” Murphy told the board. “I believed he belonged in jail, but also knew justice was not taking place. So I made the story up.”
Murphy attempted to make the board believe that she gave up her own personal freedom to get Drew convicted and “serve justice,” but now says she knows she was wrong for doing so.
But board member Joyce Hooley, who seemed to believe Murphy is still lying to this day, said, “I just don’t see how a 17-year-old who is drinking and doing drugs can be interested in going to prison for justice. I would be a lot more comfortable with this if you were to say you were there at the murder. It’s difficult to really know what’s inside you right now.”
Murphy, though, said while it would be easier and give her a better shot at release from prison to continue lying by admitting to being present at the murder, she does not want to manipulate anymore.
“If I were to tell you I was there and that I helped kill her, I would be lying,” Murphy said. “I would just be the same person I was when I first came in here.”
Although she says she lied about being present at the murder and the alleged details surrounding it, she said she still believes Drew is guilty of the murder and should have been convicted, even if it was based on false testimony.
A number of board members also questioned her about the possibility that she could have helped convict innocent suspects, and after some hesitation she said, “yes,” it was possible, but unlikely.
Murphy said she made up the story by piecing together second- and third-hand accounts of what was going on with Drew and the alleged Satanic cult.
“Karen Marsden told me that Carl Drew killed other women and that he worshipped the devil, before she died,” Murphy said. “(Karen) was running from (Drew) the last time I saw her alive.”
Murphy also claims she told then-Assistant District Attorney David Waxler that she was lying all along. She said the current real estate attorney “lost his job” due to the situation.
The board, which will render its decision on Murphy’s potential release within a month, also heard testimony from Murphy’s step-mother, Maureen Murphy.
An emotional Maureen Murphy told the board that her stepdaughter “has come a long way and is ready for (release).”
“When Robin first went to prison, I really didn’t like her very much. She was just a street-wise kid hanging out with the wrong people,” Maureen Murphy, a Rhode Island resident, said. “But about eight years later, she really started to change and show compassion for her family.
“I think she is ready and is being sincere.”
The board also noted that Murphy has participated in and completed just about every prison program there is, including obtaining her bachelor’s degree. Murphy said, if she is released, she would like to “go somewhere where my name doesn’t mean so much” and become a carpenter.
Murphy was also given an opportunity to give a closing statement before being escorted back to her cell at MCI-Framingham.
“What I did was a horrible thing to do, but I’m an adult now who’s making better decisions and being forthright,” Murphy said. “I do feel responsible for no one really knowing what happened to Karen due to my lies.
“I have come to terms with my manipulative past and feel as though I am worthy of being paroled.”
Before closing the hearing, board Chairwoman Maureen Walsh told her fellow members that a letter in opposition to Murphy’s release has been sent by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and the State Police.
The reconsideration hearing was Murphy’s fourth since becoming eligible for parole in 1996.
She is also currently awaiting word on her appeal of a recent Superior Court judge’s decision to throw out Murphy’s motion for a new trial.
She claimed in her bid for new trial that her constitutional rights were violated when she was not given a proper explanation of the punishment for second-degree murder. She said she was told and lead to believe that she would be released from prison after 12 years. But she got a life sentence with only the possibility of parole after 12 years.
Drew is also awaiting word on his own motion for a new trial. His request is based on ineffective lawyering by his former attorney, prosecutorial misconduct and new evidence presented by three witnesses who claim they were forced to lie during his initial trial in 1981.
A judge has ordered that there is enough no evidence to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter at which time the witnesses, former prosecutors and judges will likely be summonsed to testify.
It is still unclear if Murphy’s claims that she perjured herself during testimony at Drew’s trial will also be used in support of his motion to be re-tried.
Mar. 24, 2004
Gregg M. Miliote