A judge Monday postponed for two weeks a decision on how a mentally retarded man who admitted killing a woman in 1955 will spend his court-ordered freedom after 32 years in a state mental hospital.
Third District Judge Pat B. Brian said he wanted the time to consider an offer of living quarters from a fruit farmer who had seen news reports about 51-year-old Bernt Murphy.Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Bud Ellett said he was contacted late Friday by the farmer, Ron Reid Wayman, who lives west of Utah Lake and already employs a mentally retarded man.
"The man indicated he may be interested in letting Mr. Murphy live there," said Ellett. "We would like the opportunity to check that out."
A committee appointed by the judge already had made recommendations on Murphy's future, but Brian said Monday he wants the panel to study Wayman's offer before he decides where Murphy should live.
Last June, the Utah Supreme Court ordered Murphy freed from the Utah State Hospital in Provo, saying he mistakenly had been judged insane and sent there following the 1957 rape and beating of a 5-year-old girl.
During questioning for that crime, Murphy, then 19, admitted to the 1955 murder of Jocelyn Hickenlooper, a 23-year-old mentally retarded woman he had known at the Utah State Training School.
Murphy later denied killing Hickenlooper, saying he merely had sought attention for a crime.