Murder conviction upheld against Former K-State professor


TOPEKA – The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of former K-State professor Thomas E. Murray.

Murray, 51, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2003 death of his former wife, Carmin Ross, also a former K-State employee.

Though a Douglas County District Court jury found him guilty in March 2005, Murray has maintained he was innocent.

The state’s case was considered circumstantial, but the district court noted in its ruling last Friday that it was not the court’s place to reassess the credibility of the evidence presented in the trial, said Ron Keefover, Kansas Supreme Court Education Information Officer.

Murray’s attorney said there was prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments during the month-long trial, and that the judge should not have permitted hearsay statements to others by the victim and brief testimony by a detective concerning Murray’s later decision to decline an additional interview.

The court, however, rejected the claim, determining there was not a sufficient reason to reverse the verdict.

Though Murray did not testify in his case, he did speak at his sentencing hearing, calling the case a “fairy tale” and that he would not accept responsibility for an act he did not commit.

Prosecutors, however, were suspicious of Murray because of his statements in a nine-and-a-half hour interview with detectives the night his ex-wife was killed. Murray didn’t even ask about how Ross died until two-and-a-half hours into the interview.

“Although no one had informed the defendant how Carmin died, he told the police in his interview that he would not have done anything ‘like they were suggesting’ because he was a ‘thinking man,'” said Justice Robert E. Davis, writing for a unanimous court. “He explained that if he were going to commit a homicide, he would do it with an airborne poison ‘or something really slick.’ He later stated that he was ‘having fun with this from a CSI perspective.'”

Ross’ body was found by sheriff’s deputies who were asked to check on her by her fiance, Larry Lima, who lived in California but was planning to move to Lawrence, according to police reports.

Ross, whose body was found on her living room floor, suffered 11 lacerations due to blunt force injury followed by 13 stabs to the neck with a knife, as well as defensive wounds on her arms, Keefover said. Police officers reported the murder was one of the most gruesome to take place in Douglas County.

Murray was found guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 25 years. He is completing his sentence at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.