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Roy Murry triple-homicide trial to begin Monday

Under a heavy guard presence, and his attorneys by his side, Roy Murry makes his first appearance before Spokane County District Jude Vance Peterson via a video connection, June 2, 2015, at the Public Safety Building. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Under a heavy guard presence, and his attorneys by his side, Roy Murry makes his first appearance before Spokane County District Jude Vance Peterson via a video connection, June 2, 2015, at the Public Safety Building. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Roy H. Murry either planned and carried out a “swift attack” in May 2015, when he shot three members of his estranged wife’s family and then waited in vain to ambush her before setting fire to the victims’ Colbert home; or Murry, a 31-year-old Republican who was once considered to fill an open state Senate seat, is the victim of Spokane County sheriff’s detectives who immediately focused on the disabled Iraq War vet and pulled out every stop to convince prosecutors he’s a killer.

“Mr. Murry has no history of violence,” Public Defender Tom Krzyminski wrote earlier this year in court records. “To date, the physical evidence against Mr. Murry is either nonexistent or a stretch of the limits of imagination.”

Jurors will begin this week listening to the first of up to 150 witnesses in a trial that could continue past Christmas. Murry faces three counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of Lisa Canfield, 52; her husband, Terrance “Terry” Canfield, 59, who was a 28-year Spokane firefighter; and Lisa Canfield’s son, 23-year-old John Constable.

Murry has been jailed on a $3 million bond since his arrest.

The charred remains of the three victims were found on May 26, 2015, inside their home at 20 E. Chattaroy Road in Colbert.

Amanda “Mandy” Murry, who was separated from husband Roy Murry, was living in the home and arrived there in the early-morning hours to find firefighters battling a house fire and another blaze in an outbuilding.

Autopsies later found that the Canfields and Constable each had been shot multiple times. The deaths of Mandy Murry’s mother, stepfather and brother were ruled homicides.

Detectives began to focus on Murry, a troubled veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star for valor while serving as a sergeant in the Iraq War.

Murry suffered serious injuries in the war from a bomb and came home with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. And while witnesses described him as edgy, most of his brushes with the law had been minor.

In May 2011, Murry was indicted by a federal grand jury after he showed up for treatment at the VA hospital in Walla Walla carrying a concealed pistol.

Murry, who owned as many as 15 handguns, also was arrested that year in Las Vegas for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit.

But his attorneys, Krzyminski and Jill Gannon-Nagle, noted that he had not been arrested for any violent crimes until the bodies were discovered in Colbert. The attorney tried unsuccessfully to have a judge toss the murder charges.

Kryzminski also said that the gasoline used to start the fire and other physical evidence did not implicate his client.

“From what I’ve seen of the evidence, it doesn’t point to Roy,” he said in April.

Court records, however, say a Pullman storage locker kept by Murry contained road flares and a gas-can spout.

The remains of road flares and several gasoline cans were recovered from the fire scene.

Investigators say attack was timed to ex-wife’s arrival

On the day of the killings, Mandy Murry worked later than normal at her job as a nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Some 16 minutes after midnight on May 26, 2015, investigators learned that John Constable sent a text message, but it didn’t indicate anything wrong.

Neighbors reported hearing a series of gunshots at about 12:30 a.m. One of those neighbors drove by the home at about 1:40 a.m. and didn’t see flames or smell smoke. The fire was reported by another person some 25 minutes later – at 2:05 a.m.

Sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser wrote in court records that none of the shooting victims was able to retrieve any guns kept in the home “to defend themselves from the armed intruder.”

The victims “were killed during one swift attack by Roy Murry at about (12:30 a.m.),” Keyser wrote. “This was the exact time that Amanda Murry would normally have been arriving at home from work.”

Keyser said investigators believed Roy Murry waited in the home until just after 2 a.m. “so that he could kill her and burn the body in the residence with the others.”

But nothing in the court records indicates that investigators found the murder weapon. Detectives found trace evidence that appeared to be blood in Roy Murry’s car and in his apartment in Lewiston. However, nothing in the court records shows that evidence linked Roy Murry to the crime scene.

Mandy Murry told investigators that she called her estranged husband at about 4:30 a.m. on the morning the bodies were discovered and he did not answer. He called her back three hours later and said he was in Lewiston.

Investigators obtained his cellphone records, which showed Murry’s phone was in Lewiston for those two calls. However, Detective Mike Drapeau noted that the drive time between Colbert and Lewiston is about two hours.

Murry claimed Russian secret police involvement

On May 27, 2015, detectives called Murry and he canceled three meetings before finally sitting down with them at a business in Moscow, Idaho. At the interview, Murry said he had gone camping with friends on the night of the killings.

When Keyser asked Murry to give the names of his friends or contact information, Murry refused, saying “they were involved in the intelligence community and would not speak with law enforcement,” according to court records.

Murry, who said he had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, told detectives he did not want them to record any discussion about who might have committed the crimes.

The investigators turned off the recording and Murry said “that he had earlier been recruited by the Russian Secret Police known as the FSB, but rejected this recruitment and that it was possible the FSB was involved in this crime.”

The detectives pressed their questioning and changed tactics by asking Murry how he thought the crime occurred. Murry then drew a map showing how the shooter would have entered the property from the south, where there was a vacant home.

“When Murry was asked why the suspects would have burned the home, he indicated that it would be done to destroy evidence or for intimidation purposes,” Keyser wrote. “He went on to explain the killers would not have handled their brass cartridges due to fingerprints and would have used gloves. He said the killers would have brought gasoline with them and not depended on gas being present at the home.”

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