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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jury convicts Roy Murry of triple murder in grisly slaying of estranged wife’s family

A jury deliberated 10 hours before convicting Roy H. Murry of murdering three members of his ex-wife’s family in a grisly ambush that ended when he torched the family’s Colbert-area home to try to conceal his crimes.

Murry, 31, showed no reaction as the jury on Wednesday delivered the guilty verdicts for the murders and for arson. He’ll be sentenced on Jan. 12 before Superior Court Judge John O. Cooney, and the victims’ family already has requested at least three hours to describe the pain that he caused them.

“At least this part is over,” said Kelly Constable, father of Amanda Constable, Murry’s estranged wife at the time of the murders, as well as John Constable, one of Murry’s three victims. “Now we can start to heal.”

Also killed that night were Lisa Canfield – Kelly Constable’s ex-wife and the mother of Amanda and John – and Lisa’s husband Terry Canfield.

The jury of nine women and three men declined to comment following the four-week trial.

Much of the trial focused on Murry’s paranoia and delusions, which included his belief he was a shapeshifter able to change into animals. He also believed that his wife and mother-in-law were working as spies for Russia.

As his marriage collapsed, Murry brought up the topic of divorce on May 25, 2015, said Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell. The slayings occurred hours later.

“He knew Amanda Murry would tell her family … that this ordeal with Roy Murry would end,” Haskell said. “But it also put them off guard.”

Added Haskell, “In his world of trust and loyalty, this is the ultimate betrayal – for Amanda to move on.”

Prosecutors said Murry waited at his in-laws’ home for Amanda Murry to arrive. A nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, she worked an overtime shift that night and didn’t get home until hours after the killings.

The trial started on Nov. 16 and included scores of witnesses. Haskell didn’t offer a detailed explanation of how investigators believe the killings took place until he delivered his closing argument on Monday.

Flipped breaker lures victim outside

Just after midnight, the killer approached the house at 20 E. Chattaroy Road in Colbert. He opened the circuit box outside the house and flipped the breaker that darkened the room where Terry Canfield and Lisa Canfield slept.

The ruse apparently worked. The plan was to lure “alpha male” Canfield, a 28-year veteran firefighter, out of the home to check, Haskell said in his closing statement on Monday.

“Roy Murry knew the home. He knew the layout. He knew where this circuit breaker panel was located,” Haskell said. “Mr. Murry killed the lights in the bedroom.”

Canfield had just had shoulder surgery and his arm was in a sling.

“How did he get to the hay barn? We don’t know,” Haskell said. “But we know (Canfield) was drawn out of the house and he was drawn out to kill him.”

After killing Canfield, Murry entered the home where he encountered 23-year-old John Constable, investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office believe. It’s thought that Murry shot Constable in the back of the neck; he “was trying to escape the house and he was put down,” Haskell said.

After that first shot, Constable was shot again in the front of the neck, the chest and the temple. He was found lying on his back.

Murry showed remorse for Constable’s death, Haskell said, but killed him because he was a witness to the killing of Terry Canfield, 59, and his 52-year-old mother, Lisa.

“If anybody, Lisa Canfield received special attention from this killer,” Haskell said. “First of all, she was shot twice as many times. The killer took his time and may have done staging after the fact.”

Lisa Canfield’s body was discovered mostly nude in a strange position at the end of her bed. She had a small cloth wrapped around her head and in her mouth.

The autopsy found abrasions consistent with a struggle. She had defensive wounds on her arms caused when she put her hands out, in vain, to stop the 12 bullets that hit her.

“There was pure hatred there,” Haskell said. “You’ve got to remember that Roy Murry had a special hatred for Mom because Mom was standing in the way. Only Roy Murry had the training, skills and twisted motive” to pull off the crime.

After shooting Amanda Constable’s stepfather, mother and brother, the killer waited nearly two hours. That was the time Amanda was due to return from her Sacred Heart job.

“He stayed and waited for Amanda Murry to come home to finish the job he set out to do,” Haskell said.

But on that night, Amanda Murry worked four hours of overtime, an extra half-shift that Haskell said saved her life. She arrived to find the house and barn burning.

Haskell said, “He made sure there wasn’t a trace of him at the crime scene.”

Forensic analysis makes history

Amanda Constable, whose divorce from Murry recently became final, sat on the courtroom bench Wednesday and her hands shook. She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief as she waited along with a packed courtroom for the jury to arrive.

Haskell leaned forward and stared at his desk. Defense attorneys Tom Krzyminski and Jill Gannon-Nagle made small talk and occasionally smiled as they waited.

The case’s lead detective, Kirk Keyser, a 24-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, stared holes into the carpet. Once the verdict was read, Kelly Constable put his arm around his weeping daughter and Keyser reached behind to grab her hand.

“For the past 18 months, this has been my sole focus,” Keyser said of the murder investigation, “and an 18-month ordeal for the family.”

The investigation is thought to be the largest forensic investigation in Spokane County history.

Even so, the case against Murry was based largely on circumstantial evidence. Haskell argued that the only direct evidence linking Murry to the scene were particles from lubricant found on some shell casings that were similar to lubricant seized in Murry’s car.

Asked about whether he was surprised to have such little evidence after such a vast investigation, Keyser said no.

“After Roy was arrested, I expected nothing less,” Keyser said. “I quickly learned the peculiarities we were dealing with. Jack (Driscoll) and Larry (Haskell) did an incredible job of putting together a puzzle and how it fit together.”

Gannon-Nagle, of the defense team, attacked the lack of evidence in her closing statement on Monday. “Jill Gannon-Nagle did an incredible job in her closing,” Keyser said. “He was well-represented.”

Murry previously made headlines in 2011 when the Spokane County Republican Party named him one of three nominees to fill a state Senate seat, despite a lack of political experience and a recent brush with the law. County commissioners did not select him for the position.

Testimony made it clear that Murry told anyone who would listen that he believed the government would collapse at any time. But on Wednesday, the only person’s world that came crashing down was his.

“These guys did a fantastic job,” Kelly Constable said after the verdict. “We are very thankful for the prosecution was able to find what they did … and still make it work.”