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November 8, 2017

California man admits guilt in Catlett sexual assault

Investigators used a national database and DNA to identify Richard T. Murphy, 35, as the suspect in a sexual assault that took place in 2007.
We’re going to be arguing for life sentences. We’re going to aggressively pursue this. We want to send a message that we won’t tolerate this horrendous behavior in our community.
— Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A California man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Fauquier County Circuit Court to sexually assaulting a woman near Catlett more than 10 years ago.

Richard T. Murphy, 35, pleaded guilty to object penetration, forcible sodomy and abduction with the intent to defile. Each count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Lacking DNA evidence, the prosecution dropped a rape charge against Mr. Murphy, Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher said.

Mr. Murphy entered “Alford pleas” on each count during Wednesday’s 35-minute hearing in circuit court. Under such a plea, the defendant asserts innocence but acknowledges enough evidence to support a conviction. 

His guilty plea canceled a two-day trial that had been scheduled to start Wednesday morning.

Judge Jeffrey W. Parker will sentence Mr. Murphy on Feb. 21.

Judge Parker called the evidence against him “overwhelming.”

Mr. Murphy had been in the Marines stationed at Quantico when the Aug. 18, 2007, attack took place.

Investigators in Virginia and California used a national database and DNA evidence to link Mr. Murphy to the crimes.

During a February preliminary hearing in Fauquier County General District Court, the victim gave detailed testimony about the harrowing sequence of events that resulted Mr. Murphy’s attack on her.

The tearful 29-year-old victim, who attended court Wednesday, declined to comment on Mr. Murphy’s guilty plea.

“We’re going to be arguing for life sentences” for all three counts, Mr. Fisher, the lead prosecutor said. “We’re going to aggressively pursue this. We want to send a message that we won’t tolerate this horrendous behavior in our community.”

Mr. Murphy has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for assault and battery, driving under the influence, disturbing the peace, vandalism, domestic violence and violation of a protective order.

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