Trial pushed to next year for Englewood duck-pond murder suspect

Mikhail Anthony Purpera was convicted in Denver in a separate case

Posted 11/1/18

A man recently convicted in Denver of second-degree murder — who also was wanted by Louisiana authorities — now faces trial in Arapahoe County after being accused of shooting an Englewood man who …

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Trial pushed to next year for Englewood duck-pond murder suspect

Mikhail Anthony Purpera was convicted in Denver in a separate case

Posted
The suspect accused of killing an Englewood man who was found dead in a pond two years ago has had his trial moved from November to March after defense attorneys were made aware of additional evidence that they said has "exculpatory value."
 
Mikhail Anthony Purpera, 31, allegedly shot Patrick Murphy, 33, to death on Nov. 12, 2016, according to evidence presented at a 2017 preliminary hearing. He faces several charges, including first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery and possession of a controlled substance, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
 
Purpera was recently convicted in Denver of second-degree murder in a different case and was set for sentencing on Nov. 19.
 
In the Englewood case, a judge in November 2017 also decided Purpera would face a count of murder with extreme indifference — another first-degree murder charge.
 
“A jury could conclude from the evidence that defendant did not care who his victim was; he simply wanted to satiate a depraved desire to destroy human life,” Judge Phillip Douglass wrote for the Arapahoe County District Court.
 
Purpera's trial was scheduled to run in November but was rescheduled for mid-March in light of the new evidence from a police report dated Nov. 16, 2016 — about four days after Purpera was taken into custody.
 
In the report, an Englewood officer detailed contact with a man named Steven Cox in an alley in the 3900 block of South Broadway, a few blocks from where Murphy's body was found, according to the motion filed by defense to reschedule the trial. Cox was "extremely belligerent," stomping his foot, gritting his teeth and yelling at the officer, according to the motion. The officer found Murphy's Colorado driver's permit in Cox's wallet, the motion said.
 
A key witness against Purpera in the case had told police Purpera had Murphy's ID card, the motion said. Purpera allegedly took Murphy's health care card and debit or credit card, according to his arrest affidavit, but the medical card has no photo on it, the motion said.
 
A worker at the nearby Community Banks of Colorado told police that in fall 2016, she found a large amount of paperwork on the ground east of the pond where Murphy was found, a common area where transients gather to drink, use drugs and sleep, according to the affidavit. The names on the papers were also on documents found in Purpera's backpack when he was arrested, the affidavit said.
 
The prosecution notified the defense of the evidence regarding Cox on Oct. 31 and was unopposed to the motion to reschedule, the motion said.
 
Here's a look at the details leading up to the trial.
 
Englewood police Detective Brian Taylor testified in court in 2017 that a man who knew Purpera told him in an interview that Purpera killed Murphy “for the fun of it, if you will — for no reason.” The man told police that Purpera tossed a blood-covered hat — allegedly Murphy's — at him on Nov. 12, 2016. Purpera called the bloody hat a “present” and said he liked the look on the man's face, according to statements the man gave police.

That man also said Purpera showed him two shell casings and called them “trophies,” according to police interviews. Police found that the gun Purpera had when arrested was linked to casings he also possessed at the time, and also consistent with the bullets found at the scene of the death of 54-year-old homeless man Wayland Busby, at a transient campsite along the west bank of the South Platte River just outside Englewood. Purpera was suspected of killing Busby on or around Nov. 5, 2016, according to his Englewood arrest affidavit.
 
Purpera was found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree felony murder in Denver District Court Aug. 23 in that case, according to Kristin Wood, district administrator. He was acquitted of an aggravated robbery charge, Wood said. His first name is spelled “Makhail” in Denver records.
 
Authorities found Murphy’s body in the suspected area of his death, in what’s known as the "duck pond" northwest of the interchange of South Broadway and U.S. Highway 285 in Englewood. Police initially searched the area in November 2016 but did not find a body. Taylor told the court that recent snow at the time hindered the search. Murphy’s body wasn't found until Feb. 11, 2017, when a pedestrian spotted it after the pond was drained for maintenance.
 
At the 2017 hearing, Taylor, the detective, testified that a man who said he knew Purpera and knew of Murphy said Murphy often bought drugs from Purpera.
 
Purpera also faces charges of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, resisting arrest, obstructing a law enforcement officer, possessing drug paraphernalia and theft of less than $50 in the Englewood case, according to the DA's office.
 
Louisiana officials had previously issued a warrant for Purpera's arrest for two counts of attempted murder in connection with an Aug. 22, 2016, shooting in that state. Police in Gonzales, Louisiana, chased down tips that Purpera had fled to Mississippi and Mexico, the local Advocate newspaper reported, but while searching Purpera upon arrest, Englewood police found Greyhound bus tickets showing him arriving in Denver Aug. 31, 2016, according to the arrest affidavit.
 
Police arrested Purpera after a report the night of Nov. 12, 2016, about shoplifting at the Walmart at 601 Englewood Parkway, according to the affidavit.
 
At the time of the Gonzales shooting in August, Purpera had been out of prison for four months after a five-year sentence for second-degree battery and other charges from prior convictions, The Advocate reported.

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