State Rep. Kevin Murphy’s wife has changed her mind.
Denise Murphy no longer believes that she needs to be protected from her husband. Since she withdrew the protection from abuse (PFA) order she asked for and received, Kevin can even have his rifle back.
Denise could change her mind again. She might decide that it’s best for her and her children if she doesn’t testify against her husband in court. She might tell herself that what happened to her was her fault.
Denise Murphy would not be the first woman to back out of a domestic violence attack that police say turned the Murphy family’s world upside down. She would not be the first woman to blame herself. She would not be the first woman to lose her self-worth in the shadow of a man who once vowed to cherish her.
But even if that happens, police must push the prosecution of the wild lawmaker from North Scranton who deluded voters and himself for too many years. Prosecutors must take all the evidence they say they had from day one and put it on the table in a court of law even if Kevin Murphy’s wife shows up with weeping children holding his hand. Police describe a scene that nobody should ignore.
And I mean nobody.
In the days before losing the Democratic nomination in the April 24 primary election, when Kevin and I were still talking, I asked him if he was getting divorced. He said he was. The rumor mill was working overtime and people were talking disparagingly about the two-term member of the House of Representatives and his personal life.
But Kevin assured me that his wife was supporting his re-election campaign and that they were still friends.
What police describe in the criminal complaint against the lawmaker is terrifying. Police accuse Kevin Murphy of driving to his wife’s house “highly intoxicated.” He slapped her in the face, manhandled her by the neck and forced her head into the floor of the car in which she was a passenger. He punched his wife’s friend in the face and attacked him with a chokehold. Then he fled drunk in his car and hid out until the next day when he turned himself in to police.
Kevin Murphy easily made bail.
The PFA application describes him as a stalker and a maniac who once screamed so loudly into his wife’s ear that he perforated her ear drum. He threw groceries at her, she wrote. He had a gun and had allegedly been involved in an altercation in East Scranton before attacking her in front of her home and neighbors.
Those neighbors must have the courage to show up in court, too.
The criminal hearing has been postponed until August 28. I plan to attend to offer moral support to anybody and everybody, including Kevin Murphy’s wife, assuming she goes forward with her case. But even if she doesn’t, I’ll be there to show support, if for nothing else, the system that must remain strong and aggressive and protect women from marauding men who can and do kill.
Kevin Murphy is accused of being a wife beater. Put that on your resume, Murph, alongside the B.S. degree from the University of Scranton that you finally have after decades of lying about it. That lie came back to haunt him as lies often do. And losing the primary sent him hurtling over the edge.
Because Kevin Murphy wasn’t the man we thought he was or he wanted to be, Kevin Murphy lost far more than an election.
To Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola’s credit, he asked the state attorney general’s office to handle the case. Jarbola grew up with an adjoining backyard to that of the Murphy family and knows that even the mere appearance of impropriety can create more trouble than it’s worth.
So a Democratic state representative will face a Republican state prosecutor.
Everything is partisan politics in Scranton – even allegedly attacking your wife.
Even if Murphy arrives fresh from rehab and vows to never use alcohol even that contained in his “manly” cologne, he must pay for his crimes if he is convicted. A short county prison sentence is not too much to ask.
But maybe Denise will refuse to testify. Maybe her friend will refuse as well. Maybe the neighbors will go back inside their houses and pull the blinds. Maybe the magistrate will toss the case.
Maybe Murphy will run for mayor.
Had Kevin Murphy learned the value of honesty when he was growing up as a kid with a future DA in his backyard, he would have saved himself, his wife, his family and his constituents a whole lot of trouble.
Instead, Kevin Murphy lied and failed and crashed and burned.
Now he stands accused of trying to take everybody down with him.