A man was sentenced to prison Monday after drugs, drug paraphernalia, beer and a revolver were found inside a car that had a baby riding along as a passenger.
Benny R. Murphy, Jr., 47, appeared Monday in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas and plead no contest to a charge of having weapons under disability. The court found Murphy, Jr. guilty of the third-degree felony charge. He was ordered to serve nine months in prison.
During an investigation in Fayette County, a deputy sheriff with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office stopped a Kia Sportage traveling on Robinson Road (near Bogus Road) May 12, 2016.
The car was searched. A baby was a rear passenger in the car, and upon searching the diaper bag, the deputy sheriff found a piece of plastic containing white residue in the pocket underneath a baby bottle. Marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found in a baby’s diaper bag. The residue on the plastic tested positive for cocaine.
The mother of the baby, 29-year-old Audrey Tolle, was sitting in the backseat and told officers she had packed the diaper bag but was unaware of the contents, according to reports.
Benny Murphy, Jr. was a backseat passenger with Tolle and the child. On the backseat floorboard of the car, a plastic bag was found where Murphy, Jr. was seated, with cans of Busch Light beer. He told the deputy sheriff that he was planning to drink the beer, reports said. In a second bag a .357 revolver was found wrapped inside of a cloth towel. Murphy, Jr. denied ownership of the revolver.
The child in the car was released into custody of family members. Murphy, Jr. and Tolle were transported to the Fayette County Jail.
Murphy Jr.’s defense attorney, Kathryn Hapner, filed a motion in limine with the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas March 29. The Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office had already indicated that discovery of witnesses and evidence was complete in the case, but 40 hours before Murphy Jr.’s trial was set to begin, Hapner received a fax for a motion continuing discovery. This discovery motion was an attempt to add more witnesses and evidence to the case.
Hapner’s motion asked the court to issue an order preventing the State of Ohio from calling the additional two witnesses and introducing additional evidence that was previously undisclosed.
The previously undisclosed evidence was a firearm test fire on the .367 revolver found inside the car during the traffic stop and the two witnesses from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office who had performed the test. The firearm test was conducted two days prior to trial.
The incident report indicates that the revolver was secured in the traffic stop to go to the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for fingerprinting. No documents were filed in the case that indicated that fingerprinting on the firearm was conducted at BCI. The only report from BCI filed in the case was a test to confirm the presence of cocaine residue on the plastic bag.
During Murphy’s sentencing hearing Monday, he was credited with 39 days for time already served in jail on the felonious charge. At the conclusion of his sentencing, Murphy, Jr. was conveyed to Correctional Reception Center in Orient to commence his sentence.
Tolle was sentenced in December to one year of community control. She plead guilty to a fifth-degree felony for possession of cocaine in the incident. A charge for marijuana possession was dismissed.
Ashley may be contacted at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton