Father receives two life sentences for murdering sons

Published: Jun. 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2010 at 9:37 AM CDT
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Clayton Murphy Jr.
Clayton Murphy Jr.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The man who killed his two children in retaliation to his wife leaving will spend the rest of his life in prison.

District Court Judge Don Johnson sentenced Clayton Murphy Jr., 30, to two consecutive life terms Wednesday morning after a plea bargain spared him from the death penalty.

Murphy admitted to stabbing his 8-year-old and 2-year-old sons to death on Oct. 5, 2008 at the Bluebonnet Towers Apartments. Shortly before sentencing him, Johnson said he could only speculate as to why Murphy had done what he did.

"They had a marital problem," said Pearl Murphy, the defendant's sister, when asked what she thinks happened. "I had just met my nephews, Tajean and Juwan, right before my brother killed them."

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore struggled with the decision not to seek the death penalty against Murphy. He said the children's mother simply was not up to a lengthy trial.

"This was a tough one," Moore explained. "He deserved the death penalty. Fortunately, because of a benevolent mother of these children, he's spared."

Neither Murphy nor his attorney, Margaret Lagatutta wanted the trial either. During his statement to the family, Murphy said he was sorry for his actions and said he regrets it.

"He has never not taken responsibility," said Lagatutta. "It was always an issue of 'Did he want to go to trial and subject himself to a potential death penalty?' His family has been talking to him and he made the decision about two weeks ago to take the life sentence."

Murphy was immediately sent to the Department of Corrections. He will spend the rest of his natural life at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola without the benefit of parole or suspension of sentence.

Tayshaun Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene the night of the killings. His older brother, Juwan Murphy, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"They entered the apartment, at which time they confronted the subject," Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said during a news conference the day after the murders. "He had a bloody knife in his hand and was standing over one of the children. A struggle ensued. He was apprehended, taken into custody. He was later booked into parish prison with two counts of first-degree murder."

Gautreaux added one of his officers fired a shot at Murphy, but missed. Murphy was then tasered by two deputies when apprehended.

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