Murphy taught children to lie, prosecutor says
HOUSTON --The sexual assault case against former NBA star Calvin Murphy was the result of hatred, revenge and a fight over money, his lawyer said Friday in opening statements.
Murphy, accused of abusing five of his 10 daughters, is "unequivocally" innocent of the charges, attorney Andy Drumheller said.
Murphy, 56, was a Houston Rockets guard from 1970-83 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. His daughters say the abuse occurred between 1988 and 1991.
Prosecutors say Murphy tried to maintain a public image of having only one family, even though he has 14 children with nine women. He married just one of the women, according to prosecutors, and accepted her children. They said his children with the other women were told not to call him "Dad."
"They were taught to lie out in public about their relationship with Calvin Murphy from the day they were born," Lance Long, Harris County assistant district attorney, told jurors. "Calvin Murphy had three women pregnant at the same time."
Drumheller, meanwhile, said three of the five daughters had been trying to claim $52,408 in death benefits left in a teachers retirement account belonging to their mother, Phyllis Davidson. Murphy had a 20-year relationship and four children with Davidson, who died in a car accident in 1996.
This year, the three daughters continued their grandmother's attempt to stop Murphy from receiving the benefits. He was listed as the account's beneficiary, according to court records.
On Feb. 20, letters went to Murphy, his three daughters and their grandmother that Murphy was the account's rightful beneficiary. The money was never paid.
A month later, Murphy was arrested and charged with sexual abuse and indecency with the five daughters, including three with Davidson.
"This case is about resentment, it is about hatred and it is about revenge on a father," Drumheller told jurors.
Long dismissed the idea that the charges have anything to do with money and said at least one daughter contends she was as young as 6 when Murphy abused her at a hotel. Drumheller, however, said the allegations were checked out by police, who could find no record of Murphy staying at the hotel.
Murphy faces three charges of indecency with a child and three charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to two to 20 years for the indecency violations and five years to life in prison for the aggravated offenses. The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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