Hall of Famer was accused of abusing daughters
HOUSTON -- Hall of Fame basketball player Calvin Murphy just wanted to bask in the moment after a jury cleared him Monday of sexually abusing five of his 10 daughters more than a decade ago.
"For right now, I am just going to take a step back and enjoy this moment," he said as he left the courthouse. "As you can tell, I am a very emotional person. I carry my feelings on my sleeve. And to hear that people believed in me and found me innocent of those charges, my heart just swelled up and started beating very fastly in my body."
The minute the jury left the courtroom, Murphy ran up to his defense attorney, hugging him tightly, slapping his back and giving him a kiss. Tears streaming from his face, he hugged and kissed everyone who would let him.
"I cannot say enough for what they have done to give me my life back," Murphy said.
He said he hopes to one day be able to sit down and talk with his daughters.
"I want to start the healing process," he said. "Let's not forget that my family is in turmoil right now."
Murphy's daughters and prosecutors left the courthouse without commenting. Prosecutors did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Murphy, 56, had long denied the allegations. He said they were based on resentment and a dispute over money.
The jury deliberated about two hours before returning its verdict in the monthlong trial.
"You can never fully repair his reputation," defense attorney Rusty Hardin told jurors during closing arguments. "But you can take that first step in righting an injustice."
Hardin claimed the women were lying and the charges against the former Houston Rockets star were fabricated. Murphy faced three charges of indecency with a child and three charges of aggravated sexual assault.
"The bottom line in this case is you have to figure out who you believe," prosecutor Paula Storts told jurors.
She called Murphy "a master of manipulation."
"He concealed from his own wife for more than 20 years that he has four other families," she said. "He's a liar. He's a cheat and he's a child molester."
Murphy could have faced five years to life in prison for the aggravated offenses and two to 20 years for the indecency violations.
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 the women, according to prosecutors, and accepted her children. They said his children with the other women were told not to call him "Dad."
Hardin urged jurors not to let the way Murphy lived his life to influence their verdict.
"Don't be sidetracked by a lot of these issues," he said. "These are fabricated charges."
Defense attorneys say three of the five women who accused Murphy 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 saying that Murphy was the account's rightful beneficiary.
A month later, Murphy, 56, was arrested and charged with sexual abuse and indecency with the five daughters, including three with Davidson.
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 throws -- and made 78 straight in one stretch -- in 1980-81 for a record single-season percentage of .958.
Following Monday's verdict, Hardin indicated Murphy would like to return to basketball. In September, he was dismissed from his job as a television analyst for the Rockets.
Rockets senior vice president Tad Brown said the team was pleased Murphy had been cleared and would re-evaluate his future at the end of the season.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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