Friday, 28-year-old Timothy P. Murphy was sentenced to 45 years in jail for killing 64-year-old Brian Stanton of Ketchikan.
In 2017, Murphy was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of Stanton. The shooting took place at the Phoenix Logging Camp at Keete Inlet on Prince of Wales Island.
Trooper Robert Jensen’s affidavit filed in court states that the POW Troopers station received a call about Stanton’s death at about 6:30 a.m. October 25, 2017. Stanton had been found dead inside his trailer at the remote camp.
Jensen reports that the caller told troopers that it appeared the victim had been shot in the back of the head while he sat on a couch. Jensen reports that Stanton shared the trailer with two other men. One roommate told Jensen he saw Murphy nearby as he walked to breakfast.
The roommate told Jensen that a few minutes later, he heard a commotion, returned to his trailer and found Stanton dead.
The other roommate was asleep at the time of the shooting. He told Jensen that he woke up when he heard shouting followed by two pops. According to the affidavit, he said he came out of his bedroom, saw shell casings, and saw Stanton dead on the couch.
Murphy’s roommate told Jensen that Murphy told him he’d shot someone. Murphy also allegedly told the camp boss that he was responsible for Stanton’s death.
Judge Jude Pate said Murphy used marijuana and methamphetamine the day before he killed Stanton.
“My reading [from the doctor’s] report is that Mr. Murphy has moments of insight in which he knows what he’s thinking—that it can’t be, that it’s insane, it’s not real,” said Pate. “But then he’ll lapse into it. So there’s this cycle or this flow back and forth. But at least a part of Mr. Murphy believed there was cannibalism happening at the camp and camp members were feeding him human flesh. He completely delusionally believed that Brian Stanton was a part of this somehow.”
He also may have believed that some sort of CIA conspiracy was taking place in which Stanton was involved, according to District Attorney Timothy McGillicuddy.
Judge Pate said the toxic combination of mental illness and drug usage for the past 15 years led to this point. He said he has an inkling of how this happened, but not why.
“In reviewing the letters from Mr. Stanton’s family, there was a theme and at least one family member expressly asked why—and there is no good answer for that,” said Pate. “There is no good why, there is no satisfactory answer. It was senseless and when something’s senseless, there is no reason.”
Judge Pate said this is Murphy’s first felony conviction and he doesn’t have a particularly serious criminal history. Murphy was charged in 2009 for juvenile assault and 2010 for probation violation. In 2011 and 2012, he was convicted of theft in Ketchikan. In 2015, he received a second-degree harassment conviction in Ketchikan.
Judge Pate said Murphy’s mental health issues began when he was 13-years-old, and he began using drugs—including cocaine—as early as 14-years-old.
McGillicuddy said this was a senseless act of violence.
“Over at the Phoenix lodging camp, nobody had a bad word to say about [Stanton],” he said. “When I say nobody that includes the defendant. In his more lucid moments, he could say nothing but good things about Brian Stanton. And it just underscores just how senseless this killing was—absolutely senseless. There’s not a discernible motive for it. It wasn’t done for money, the defendant didn’t kill Brian out of jealously, he didn’t kill him for revenge, it was just utterly senseless.”
McGillicuddy said it’s obvious that Murphy’s thinking was disordered and disturbed. He said one of Murphy’s roommates told troopers that Murphy thought someone was spying on him and implanted a camera into his eye and was monitoring him.
Assistant Public Defender Katrina Larsen said she agrees with McGillicuddy. She said he is committed to taking medication as prescribed.
Leonard Stanton, the oldest of Stanton’s remaining five siblings, read a letter on behalf of the Stanton family.
“One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this tragedy is that Brian was about to retire,” Stanton. “Murphy stole all of Brian’s hard earned retirement years. Brian was very likely to live for many years.”
Murphy’s mother spoke and said nothing she can say can express her sorrow in her son’s horrible act. She said she grieved along with the Stanton family knowing that someone she brought into the world took the life of a good man.
Murphy also read an apology letter to the Stanton family. He said not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about Stanton and the terrible and heartless crime that he committed.
“I can only imagine how much of an impact this has left on the family and how much pain I caused,” he said. “I had no right to take away the life of another person and I live with that grief every day. I know there is nothing I can say or do can fix what’s been done. There is no real reason why I did what I did.”
He said he was on a mixture of different drugs and his mind was in a bad place after being estranged from his wife and kids.
“Yet there is still no excuse or reason why I murdered Mr. Stanton,” said Murphy. “He was a good man with still a future ahead of him. I regret so bad[ly] what I have done that it’s hard to function every day. This event changed who I am now and I live with this horrible guilt.”
He said his actions on October 25 still haunt him to this day.
“It’s been a heartbreaking experience and I’m haunted by personal demons from that tragic day,” said Murphy. “It’s a burden to live with what I’ve done. I have wept so many tears of sorrow, I can’t truly express how sorry I am. I’m a failure and carry with me the darkest of all crimes. I hope one day you can forgive me.”
On March 4, 2019, Murphy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder through a plea agreement. In exchange for pleading guilty, the charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence were dropped. Murphy was sentenced to 45 years in jail with 27 to serve. He will be on probation for 10 years.