Man changes plea, gets sentenced 6 to 8 years for attempted murder

  • Timothy J. Murphy, right, sits next to attorney Stephen E. Shea in Greenfield Superior Court on Monday while Assistant District Attorney Joseph Ryan Webber, left, speaks to Judge Karen Goodwin. Murphy was accused of slitting the throats of his sister and brother-in-law with intent to murder them. He was sentenced Monday to six to eight years in federal prison after he changed his plea to guilty. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2019 10:27:31 PM

GREENFIELD — The Athol man charged a year ago with attempting to murder his sister and brother-in-law by cutting their throats was sentenced Monday to six to eight years in federal prison after changing his plea to guilty in Franklin County Superior Court.

Timothy J. Murphy, 59, stood and looked directly at First Assistant Clerk Magistrate Benjamin Simanski as Simanski read the sentencing for two counts of home invasion, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and battery upon a person 60 years or older by means of a dangerous weapon, and single count of vandalization of property. The individual sentences will run concurrently at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Cedar Junction in Walpole. Murphy was also sentenced to three years probation upon release.

Police say Murphy on June 5, 2018 invaded the Athol home of his sister, Susan Page, and brother-in-law, William Page, and cut their throats with a knife. Police received a report of a disturbance at the home and arrived to find both residents clutching their bleeding necks. Police photographs presented during the hearing showed deep slashes across the center of both victims’ necks.

Judge Karen Goodwin asked Murphy, who appeared in court in a button-down blue shirt, if he committed the acts of violence, to which the defendant responded, “Yes.” Goodwin first confirmed Murphy was aware of the rights he was forfeiting by pleading guilty.

Murphy initially pleaded not guilty. Lawyer Stephen E. Shea, representing Murphy, asked the judge for a two-to-three-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Ryan Webber, who was prosecuting the case, said the state believed six to eight years was adequate although Susan Page could be seen in the courtroom shaking her head and whispering, “It’s not.” The Pages each required urgent medical care to save their lives.

“It’s a miracle they survived,” Webber said.

After the victims were taken to Athol Hospital, Athol Police Officer Erick Fredette and State Police Trooper Steve Torosian went to the Crescent Street residence of Murphy’s nephew. Murphy was not there initially but the nephew called police a short time later to say his uncle was approaching the building.

Police said Murphy was confronted at the home and had a large knife. He was shot with a Taser after allegedly making an “aggressive” movement, though the Taser was ineffective. Murphy was eventually brought to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed, reportedly telling police, “I was going to turn myself in,” and, “My family cut me out.”

The commonwealth portrayed Murphy as a man in a declining mental state who believed his family had cut off power to his mother’s house, where he was living, when in fact the power was eliminated because he had not been paying the utilities. Murphy’s mother has been in a nursing home since breaking her pelvis and elbow in a fall.

In a victim impact statement, Susan Page described the terror her brother instills in her. She also said he has shown no remorse and she is convinced he will again try to kill her whenever he is released from prison. Murphy did not look at his sister during her statement.

William Page, seated next to Webber during Susan’s statement, spoke briefly with Webber, who told the judge that William wished to “echo” his wife’s sentiments. The Pages then returned to their seats near family members.

Shea stood up and began his remarks by saying none of his words should be interpreted as placing blame on the victims. However, he said Murphy has, in fact, expressed remorse for his actions and he reiterated Susan Page’s mention of a difficult upbringing by an alcoholic father. Shea said his client lived in the house with his mother for many years and “did a ton of work on that house,” causing several of Murphy’s family members to shake their heads.

Shea said Murphy was “throwing himself on the mercy of the court, pleading guilty.” He also pleaded for compassion and leniency to allow Murphy a chance to — separate from his family members — attend a viewing of his mother if she dies during his incarceration. This request caused Susan Page to gasp in disbelief.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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