Detective Torpedoed Own Cases in Spat With Prosecutor

Roger Murphey refused to testify in protest of how attorney treated St. Louis police
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2023 9:30 AM CDT
Detective Torpedoed Own Cases in Spat With Prosecutor
   (Getty / Michael Chodyra)

Roger Murphey investigated his share of murder cases as a police detective in St. Louis, but an unusual twist has affected at least nine of them, reports ProPublica. Murphey, who retired in 2021, has refused to testify in court against the defendants he believes are guilty. He acknowledges sabotaging the cases and says he is doing so out of principle because a prosecutor formally questioned his credibility and that of other officers. The prosecutor is Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who came to office in 2016 on a pledge to reduce mass incarceration before stepping down earlier this year after much pressure and multiple staff departures. She had placed Murphey's name on a red-flag list after some of his social media posts came to light, including one in which he referred to a Black police shooting victim as a "thug." Murphey is white.

The retired detective is unapologetic about his refusal to testify in the cases and says he wishes others in the department followed suit. "They have wives, they have kids, they have tuition, medical bills," he says. "But me—it's just me and my wife, and my wife is like, 'Go for it.'" Of the nine cases, one ended in acquittal (after a prosecutor left multiple voicemails for Murphey pleading unsuccessfully with him to take the stand), four resulted in plea deals that prosecutors say Murphey's recusal forced them to offer, and one saw the charges dropped entirely. Prosecutors scored murder convictions in the remaining three. One victim's sister said it was "heartbreaking" that a police officer would walk away from his own case. Read the full story. (Or check out other longforms.)

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