Ivan Ray Murphy Jr., 38, was executed by lethal injection on 4 December 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of an 80-year-old woman.
On 9 January 1989, Murphy, then 23, and Douglas Stoff, 18, went to the home of Lula Mae Denning. Murphy was a longtime acquaintance of Denning, and she let the two men inside. Murphy and Stoff then beat Denning to death and stole some of her jewelry.
An anonymous phone call to Denison police implicated Murphy in the murder. He was arrested in Oklahoma on 19 January for shooting at someone in an unrelated incident. He was brought back to Texas, where he gave a written confession. Murphy stated that he and Stoff went to Denning's house with the intent of robbing her. Their plan was for Murphy to distract Denning while Stoff looked through her purse. Murphy claimed that after he finished a bowl of ice cream that Denning served him, he went outside to retrieve her newspaper. Upon his return, he found Stoff arguing with Denning and saw him hit her on the head with a hammer. Murphy claimed that he then fled the scene.
At another point in the investigation, Murphy claimed that he had nothing to do with the crime and had not been to Denning's house in 20 years.
The police investigation uncovered evidence indicating that Murphy went to an acquaintance's house after the murder and traded one of Denning's rings for some drugs, and that he and Stoff each gave some of Denning's jewelry to their girlfriends. The Cool Whip bowl from which Murphy had eaten strawberry ice cream had been wiped clean on the outside, but Murphy's fingerprints were found on the inside. Traces of the victim's blood were also found on his clothing.
Prosecutors claimed that Murphy and Stoff were at Stoff's house sniffing paint and doing drugs when they decided to go to Murphy's old neighborhood and rob Denning. They said that they beat Denning to death with either her own cane, or a sawed-off shotgun that they brought with them.
At Murphy's trial, Michael McGregor testified that he was incarcerated with Murphy at the Grayson county jail, and that Murphy described the murder to him. He testified that Murphy said that Stoff knocked Denning down and he beat her. They then took some items and traded them for drugs. When they went back to Denning's house to look for more items to steal, they saw that she had not moved.
Murphy had a previous conviction for theft and was sentenced to 3 years' probation. After about a year, his probation was revoked, and he served 6½ months in prison. He was then paroled to Oklahoma in May 1985. He had three theft-related convictions in Oklahoma over the next two years. In June 1989, while awaiting trial for Denning's murder, Murphy was tried in Oklahoma and found guilty of two counts of shooting with intent to kill.
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