SALT LAKE CITY — A Moab man with a history of domestic violence who police say caused life-threatening injuries to a woman — which may have gone unreported for days — made his first appearance in court on Monday.
James Thomas Murphy, 50, is charged in 7th District Court with two counts of aggravated assault, a first-degree felony.
The investigation began June 2 when a woman was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. The case was originally reported as a medical incident, but doctors and police soon discovered it was a horrific case of domestic violence, according to a police affidavit.
“The initial injuries observed by hospital staff included a brain bleed, severe bruising all around the neck, on the face, on the cranium, severe bruising on both hands, bruises to the back, both legs, both arms and a severe bruise to the back of the right hip. These injuries are consistent with someone being assaulted with hands, and being stomped on or kicked when lying on the ground in the fetal position,” according to the affidavit.
“There was concern from law enforcement that the injuries sustained by (the woman) could result in her death as our experience has seen this happen before.”
The woman had lived with Murphy for about three months, according to police.
When first interviewed by a Grand County sheriff’s deputy, she claimed she was attacked by six men while riding her bike. “We told (her) that we knew that was not true due to evidence found in Murphy’s home,” deputies wrote in the affidavit.
Blood was found in the living room, bedroom and kitchen of Murphy’s residence, including “blood along the wall at the height that someone crawling would have left,” the affidavit states.
According to police, the women then said that her injuries were the result of an assault by Murphy that started three days earlier. In addition to a brain bleed, both of her eyes “were black and swollen nearly shut,” “it was obvious that she had been” choked, she had a bite mark, and she had a broken right ankle from being stomped on by Murphy, the affidavit says.
During a second interview, the woman told investigators “that she would normally just lay down and let Murphy kick her until he stopped. (She) said that Murphy stomped on the front and back of her neck and that he beat her with his hands,” the affidavit states.
During the second interview, she allegedly again tried to tell police that someone else had assaulted her, but the detective told her he knew that wasn't true.
When asked why she kept protecting the man, the woman told the deputy that he had saved her brother’s business. “I told her that her brother’s business wasn’t worth her life,” according to the affidavit.
In 2011, Murphy pleaded no contest to a charge of assault in another domestic violence case involving his then-wife, according to court documents.
“On this occasion, the victim also claimed that Murphy had kicked her while she was on the ground, and tried to suffocate her with a pillow,” the affidavit states.
The ex-wife told investigators that Murphy “has access to mass amounts of money through his family,” claiming his family used to own a Major League Baseball team.
“This is a red flag for law enforcement as Murphy could very well flee the area and become near impossible to find given his family’s financial resources and possible connections,” police wrote in the affidavit.
On Monday, a judge set Murphy’s bail at $300,000, and that if he should make bail, that he be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor, according to court records.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or the Utah LINKLine at 1-800-897-5465 for confidential assistance.