Louisiana fugitive found guilty of killing man found in Englewood pond

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A fugitive from Louisiana has been convicted of murder in the death of a man whose body was found in an Englewood pond.

Mikhail Purpera, 31, was found guilty last week of first-degree murder by an Arapahoe County District Court jury in the death of 33-year-old Patrick Murphy.

Prosecutors said Purpera left Louisiana in August 2016 after police in Gonzales sought to arrest him on two counts of attempted murder.

On Nov. 12, 2016, Purpera was arrested in Englewood on suspicion of shoplifting. He was in possession of a loaded .40 caliber handgun at the time of his arrest.

Tests linked the gun to the shooting death of Wayland Busby, a 54-year-old transient found dead on Nov. 5, 2016, in a tent where was living along the South Platte River in Denver.

Purpera was also in possession of a health care card and cellphone belonging to Murphy, who was reported missing in the early-morning hours of Nov. 12, 2016.

While investigating the Busby death, detectives discovered Purpera had told a witness that he killed a man near a pond at the northwest corner of South Broadway and West Jefferson Avenue in Englewood.

The area was searched, but the pond was iced over and nothing was found.

In February 2017, the pond was drained to clear sediment. As the water level fell, a passerby reported seeing a body and called police.

The Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office identified Murphy and said he had been shot in the back of the head.

A witness told police that Purpera said he killed Busby to steal marijuana from him. Purpera told the same witness that he killed Murphy because he was “getting a rush off it.”

A Denver jury convicted Purpera in August of first-degree felony murder in the death of Busby. Purpera was sentenced in November to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The Arapahoe jury convicted Purpera of first-degree felony murder, first degree murder extreme indifference, aggravated robbery, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, possession of a controlled substance, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest and theft.

He will be sentenced April 23 to the mandated life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Human life is meaningless to this cold-blooded and wanton killer,” 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement.

“Laws that prohibit this felon from possessing firearms are meaningless to this multiple murderer. Our community, the planet, is better off with this guy behind bars forever. This is why we build prisons.”

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