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Trooper's mother found guilty of assaulting woman in courthouse

May 27, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A judge on Tuesday found a woman guilty of assaulting another woman in a courthouse hallway while their families were in court in February for a child pornography case.

Vicki A. Murphy, 59, of Myersville, Md., will be on supervised probation before judgment for six months.

Paul McGuckian, a retired Montgomery County judge sitting in Washington County, also ordered Murphy to perform 25 hours of community service and pay court costs, but no fine.

The altercation happened Feb. 12, when Murphy was in Washington County District Court for the sentencing of her son, former Maryland State Police Trooper Brian H. Murphy, who was convicted of possessing child pornography.

In the hallway during a break that day, Vicki Murphy had her hands on the throat of Susan Hamalainen and scratched her, forcing police to intervene, Assistant State's Attorney Steven Kessell said in court Tuesday. He said a surveillance camera captured the altercation.

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Hamalainen is the grandmother of a girl whose grade-school photo figures into an investigation connected to Brian Murphy's child pornography case.

Authorities have alleged in court documents that pictures on Brian Murphy's computer showed his hand and genitals near the girl's photo. Murphy hasn't been charged in connection with those pictures.

A prosecutor has asked for Murphy to be physically examined to compare his hand and genitals to what can be seen in the pictures. Defense attorneys have objected and argued that others had access to the computer.

The state's attorney's office dropped three additional charges - disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and second-degree assault - against Vicki Murphy on Tuesday.

Kissell said the second assault charge was connected to an allegation that Vicki Murphy slapped Hamalainen's husband during the same altercation.

Hamalainen said her husband, Carl, was sick at the time and has since died.

After the Feb. 12 altercation, Hamalainen, 58, of Middletown, Md., was charged with second-degree assault and malicious destruction of property with a value of less than $500.

Both charges against her were dismissed Tuesday.

David Ross, an attorney for Vicki Murphy, told McGuckian that Murphy alleged she was pushed and touched in the hallway and her necklace was broken.

He said there was an "extreme amount of tensions" between the two families. "Any spark would have set anything off," he said, questioning why the families weren't kept separate.

More tension surfaced after Tuesday's hearing when Vicki Murphy's attorney, Constance A. Camus, confronted members of Hamalainen's family in the hallway. Hagerstown Police were called to stand guard as Vicki Murphy, her family and her attorneys left the building.

Brian Murphy, 34, of Boonsboro, was found guilty in December of possessing five pornographic images of someone younger than 18.

He was given a suspended one-year jail term and was put on three years of supervised probation. He also was fined $2,500 and ordered to perform 750 hours of community service.

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