Bernt Murphy was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation, a $2,500 fine and one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor theft of property.
Judge John C. Backlund of Orem 4th Circuit Court stayed the fine, suspended all but 30 days of the jail sentence and gave Murphy credit for time served.Murphy, who is mentally retarded, was charged with the misdemeanor after he walked off with a dog belonging to a neighbor of the group home where he's been living in Orem. He moved into the group home last year after spending more than 30 years at the Utah State Hospital. Murphy said he took the dog because he didn't think it was being cared for.
The judge said he had read the pre-sentence reports prepared by Adult Probation and Parole and letters from concerned citizens. The report had suggested 36 months of supervised probation and one year in jail. Backlund ordered that Murphy's 36-month term of probation include 24-hour supervision by a group home licensed by the state. He also said the home must follow all state and city laws and regulations.
As part of the probation, Backlund also stipulated that Murphy cannot be left alone with an adult woman or any child under age 18 at any time. He will not be allowed to go anywhere alone.
"That's up to the group home to see that that does not happen," Backlund said. The judge said putting Murphy in jail would not be productive because there are no programs in jail to serve his special needs. His personal belief, he said, was that Murphy would be better off in the Training School in American Fork. "But I don't have the authority to place him there."
He told the probation officer he would have wide latitude in controlling Murphy.
Murphy will be required to inform the court of any change in address, and his placement will be reviewed.
After sentencing, Murphy left for a group home on a farm in Lehi. The home was purchased two weeks ago specifically to house Murphy and several others who are expected to be happier in a more-rural group home. Plans for the Lehi home include a greenhouse and some animals.
John Arellin, Murphy's caseworker from the Office of Social Services, said a rural environment will be better for Murphy because he won't be under the pressure he's been under in town.