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Former Md. trooper sentenced in child porn case

Judge gives Brian H. Murphy a suspended one-year jail term, probation

Judge gives Brian H. Murphy a suspended one-year jail term, probation

February 13, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- A former Maryland State Police trooper convicted of possessing child pornography was sentenced Tuesday to a suspended one-year jail term and three years of supervised probation in an emotional hearing that erupted into violence in the hallway during a recess.

Washington County District Judge Mark D. Thomas said he thought the sentence was appropriate given the misdemeanor charges and the spotless record of the defendant, Brian H. Murphy, 34, of Boonsboro.

However, Thomas said he was concerned by new information that suggested Murphy allowed his inappropriate thoughts to spread to the way he viewed children he knew.

Meanwhile, the defendant's mother was arrested after she was involved in a fight outside the courtroom, Hagerstown Police said.

Vicki A. Murphy, 59, of 3920 Wistman Lane in Myersville, Md., was charged with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, court records show.

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She was arguing with the grandmother of a child associated with a court case when she slapped a man who stepped between them, Sgt. Mark Renner said.

Brian Murphy was found guilty in December of possessing five pornographic images of a child under 18.

After the sentencing Tuesday, his attorney, Constance A. Camus, filed a notice that she would appeal the case.

On Tuesday, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph S. Michael presented Maryland State Police reports from a separate, open investigation into Murphy's alleged conduct toward a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old he knew. The family involved was also a member of the "fraternity of Maryland State Police," Michael said.

No charges have been filed against Murphy in those cases.

Thomas said his sentence was based only on the charges on which Murphy was convicted, but said he was troubled by one of the photos submitted from the other investigation.

"While it was not child pornography, it was evident how close your fantasies came to worse actions than you have been found guilty of," Thomas said.

Thomas said Murphy's position as an officer of the law at the time of the offense was also taken into consideration.

"It's one thing in a community when a child is taken advantage of by a total stranger, which most children are taught to avoid," Thomas said. "It's another thing entirely when a child is taken advantage of by a person in a position of trust."

Thomas said he balanced these factors against Murphy's clean record and honorable police career, as well as the limited number of photos found on Murphy's computer and the fact that he was not convicted of producing or distributing them.

Murphy had been awarded the Medal of Valor during his service with the Maryland State Police.

"We all need to remember that we live in a society where evil thoughts alone are not a crime," Thomas said. Still, he said, "the more we tolerate evil thoughts as harmless indulgences of our basest nature, the more desensitized we become to that evil nature."

The decision to suspend the jail time was intended to maximize the court's leverage over Murphy, Thomas said. Any jail time would have been stayed when Murphy filed his appeal, Thomas said.

Conditions of Murphy's probation include restrictions from contact with minors, owning and using computers, and viewing or possessing any pornography, Thomas said.

Murphy also was issued a $2,500 fine and ordered to complete 750 hours of community service in the next two years.

Murphy hugged his attorney before they walked out of the court house.

"We're happy that the judge saw the stellar record that my client had," Camus said. "It's on to Circuit Court for us. That's all we ever wanted."

Murphy retired from the state police because he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to a shooting in which he was involved, Camus said in court Tuesday.

Staff writer Erin Julius contributed to this story.

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