Testimony moves ex-husband of Castle Rock woman accused of killing kids to vomit

Castle Rock's Kelli Murphy appears in court in 2011. Murphy stands accused of killing her two children. Her trial began on Nov. 14, 2012.

Castle Rock's Kelli Murphy appears in court in 2011. Murphy stands accused of killing her two children. Her trial began on Nov. 14, 2012.

By KOLIN LAWLER
For FOX31 Denver

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The ex-husband of a Castle Rock woman accused of killing the couple’s children fled the courtroom and vomited after dramatic testimony presented just before the prosecution and defense rested their respective cases this week.

Eric Murphy and Douglas County prosecutor Jay Willford have insisted throughout the six-day trial that Kelli Murphy is not as mentally unstable as she and her defense team have argued.

Kelli and her defense lawyer, Ara Ohanian, have stated the 43-year-old doesn’t remember smothering both Liam and Madigan Murphy until they suffocated in May of 2011 because she had mixed a bottle of vodka and sleeping pills and blacked out beforehand.

The prosecution painted a much different picture of Kelli as both sides called their final witnesses on Wednesday.

Not only was Kelli in her right mind, Willford has implied, the decision to kill her children may have been a calculated effort of revenge against Eric, who had just won a battle for joint custody of the couple’s 6- and 9-year-old children.

That argument is expected to be expressly-presented by the prosecution when both sides offer their closing arguments to a jury of 10 men and four women on Tuesday.

The tipping point for Eric during the emotional proceedings came after his testimony on Nov. 15.

When asked by the prosecution if he felt his wife was mentally unstable leading up to the death of the couple’s children, Eric said Kelli not only appeared lucid, but that she also appeared to be mounting a case against him.

“She flat out told me, ‘I know the law. I will prove spousal abuse,’” he said, saying that Kelli had filed for full custody of the children and that he expected her to challenge the court’s decision.

The couple were due in court the afternoon before Liam and Madigan were discovered dead.

Eric left the stand visibly shaking, and fled the courtroom to vomit in a lobby trash can.

The prosecution continued to elaborate on Eric’s testimony this week, calling Douglas County Det. Mike Williams as their last witness Wednesday. 

Williams said investigators discovered all of the couple’s divorce papers on a kitchen table as if someone had been reviewing them. The prosecution then had Williams read a crumpled up note from Eric’s divorce lawyer that was discovered in Kelli’s trash can.

“It stated that the parents of Liam and Madigan Murphy would share custody of the children 50-50,” Williams said. 

The note also had something handwritten scrawled on it — something that Willford implied was written by Kelli. Williams was asked to read that portion, as well.

“It reads, ‘Was it worth this?’” Williams said.

On Nov. 14, the opening day of the trial, the prosecution also presented Kelli’s 911 call reporting the death of her children, which was once believed to serve the defense.

In addition to Kelli’s comment that her children “were in heaven,” Willford said there was another seemingly-calculated statement: “I have to have an attorney.”

The final witness called by the defense Wednesday was Douglas County Det. Jason Maes, who spoke about a video camera that appeared to be set up for recording in Kelli’s house. It was also discovered during the murder investigation.

It was not immediately clear how the testimony was meant to serve the defense’s case.

Ohanian has argued that Murphy was a great, devoted mother who had devised a plan to commit suicide.

“She felt she was losing everything,” Ohanian said. “Her house, her family, her husband. She also thought she might lose her kids.”

But Kelli’s biggest fear, Ohanian said, was that her kids would perceive suicide as proof that she had abandoned them. That’s why she drank the vodka and took the pills, Ohanian said — to make it appear as if she had died in her sleep.

But when she woke up from a black out, she found her children dead. So, Ohanian said, she then tried to kill herself by deeply cutting into her wrists.

Ohanian is asking the jury to convict Kelli on a lesser charge than first-degree murder.