The Daytona Beach News-Journal, news-journalonline.com/
BYLINE: FRANK FERNANDEZ, Staff writer,
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BUNNELL -- Former Bunnell police Lt. John Murray denied he took some marijuana plants police had seized and also said he didn't know how a "cookie" of cocaine ended up in the back of his police vehicle.
Murray, 48, testified Wednesday during his trial on two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, two counts of tampering with physical evidence and one count each of official misconduct and possession of marijuana. Each is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Murray was fired in June 2010 from the Bunnell Police Department. His wife, Lisa Murray, was fired, too, and charged with official misconduct. Lisa Murray's trial is scheduled to follow right after her husband's. John Murray's trial is scheduled to continue Friday. Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano is presiding over both at the Kim C. Hammond Justice Center.
The trial has focused in part on some marijuana plants found behind a vacant house at 201 Stone St. in April 2009.
Earlier in the trial, Bunnell Police Officer Chris Wolfle testified he was told by John Murray to load some pot plants, which were from about 3 feet to 6 feet tall, into Murray's police SUV. Wolfle also testified that Murray said he would fill out a report on the plants and Wolfle need not worry about it.
But under questioning by defense attorney Michael Lambert, Murray denied telling Wolfle to load the plants into the SUV. And Murray told Lambert it was Wolfle's responsibility to write the report and deal with the plants.
Prosecutor Jason Lewis questioned Murray, who was the evidence custodian at the time, about whether he followed up on what happened to the plants.
"Did it cause you any great concern when you went to work the next day and you didn't find any marijuana plants there," Lewis asked.
"No, because I have so many bags in the evidence room," Murray said. "It's in the envelope."
"Sir, these were big evidence bags -- BIG BAGS -- and you were just the day before at a scene where marijuana was found and the next day when you go to the evidence room and it's not there, and you as lieutenant evidence custodian don't get concerned about that?" Lewis said.
But Murray described the plants as very small, so small that they would have fit into a legal-sized envelope.
Under questioning by Lambert, Murray testified that prior to the incident with the plants he had written Wolfle up for saying he was on patrol when he was actually parked and talking with another officer.
Murray also said he did not know how the disc of cocaine ended up in the back of his Ford Explorer Police SUV. It was found during a search after Murray was placed on administrative leave. The cocaine was wrapped in a latex glove.
John Murray's former girlfriend, Dawn Davis, testified earlier in the day that Murray would bring her drugs wrapped in purple, green or blue latex gloves. Murray would get the drugs from crime scenes, she said.
But Murray testified it was actually Davis who stole his painkillers, which had been prescribed to him for a medical problem. He said when he saw she had taken the painkillers he broke up with her and kicked her out of the house they shared in Palm Coast.
Lewis asked Murray whether he reported the theft of his painkillers. Murray said no.
"So you as a law enforcement officer know someone took drugs from you and you didn't feel it important or prudent to report that to any police agency?" Lewis said.
"At that time, I was in so much pain and ill that in my mind I just wanted her out of the house," Murray said.
"So I assume when you were feeling better about a week later, you reported it to police?" Lewis said.
"No" Murray said.
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