Murphy's lawyers claim allegations are over money

Updated: December 3, 2004, 3:56 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Testimony ended Friday in the sexual abuse trial of NBA Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy, and a jury will begin deliberating his fate next week.

The month-long trial's testimony phase ended a day after Murphy testified in his own defense and tearfully denied allegations that he sexually abused five of his 10 daughters.

"Absolutely not. No, I did not," the former Houston Rockets star on Thursday responded when his attorney, Rusty Hardin, asked if he "intentionally and knowingly engaged in sexual contact" with his daughters "by touching the genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify your sexual desire."

Prosecutors declined to summon any rebuttal witnesses to testify Friday, so state district judge Michael McSpadden released jurors for the rest of the day and said closing arguments would take place Monday.

Murphy, 56, is accused of abusing five of his 10 daughters between 1988 and 1991. He faces three charges of indecency with a child and three charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

His attorneys say the allegations by his daughters, now all adults, stem from a dispute over money. They say three of the five daughters have been trying to claim $52,408 in death benefits left in a Teacher Retirement System of Texas 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 earlier protests over Murphy 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.

During cross-examination, Murphy acknowledged he received $42,000 from Davidson's retirement insurance.

He also agreed that he was occasionally in his home alone with each of his daughters.

Prosecutor Lance Long asked Murphy if the girls had ever slept in his room when he wasn't there.

"I'm sure they did," Murphy said.

Prosecutors say Murphy tried to maintain a public image of having only one family, even though he has 14 children with nine women. He only married one of them, according to prosecutors, and accepted her children. They said his children with the other women were told not to call him "Dad."

Murphy was drafted in 1970 by the San Diego Rockets, who moved to Houston the following season. He quickly became a fan favorite. His 17,949 points were a franchise high until Hakeem Olajuwon passed him.

Known as the "Pocket Rocket" because of his small stature, Murphy missed just nine free-throw attempts -- and made 78 straight in one stretch -- in 1980-81 for a record single-season percentage of .958.

If convicted, he faces five years to life in prison for the aggravated offenses and two to 20 years for the indecency violations.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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