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Ketchikan man arraigned in POW murder: Victim found at logging camp with two bullet holes in back of head

Daily News Staff Writer

“The state is going to have to prove it.”

Those were the words Timothy Murphy, 26, told Craig Police Chief RJ Ely following the shooting death of Brian Stanton, 64, at a logging camp located on Prince of Wales Island.

On Monday Murphy was arraigned in Prince of Wales Superior Court on charges of first- and second-degree murder as well as a felony charge of tampering with physical evidence. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Around 6 a.m. on Oct. 25, Stanton, 64, of Ketchikan was found dead of two apparent gunshot wounds to the head in his trailer at the Phoenix Logging camp located on Keete Inlet.

According to court documents, Stanton was found to be deceased upon arrival of the Alaska State Troopers: “Troopers observed two small holes in the back of his head. The size and shape appeared to have been caused by a small caliber firearm.”

One witness listed in a court affidavit said he was asleep when the alleged murder occurred. He was sleeping in Trailer #3; the same trailer Stanton was found deceased.

Court documents detail that witness’ statement regarding the shooting.

“He was woken by someone yelling, ‘what the (expletive)’ followed by two ‘pops’ which (the witness) said sounded like a small caliber firearm.” The report goes on to read that the witness “initially thought Stanton had shot himself and summoned help from the occupants of a nearby trailer.”

Soon after the alleged early-morning homicide, Murphy allegedly told his roommate at the camp that he had “shot someone.”

The camp boss, James Tipton, was notified, and according to a court affidavit, “Murphy was separated from the other camp employees by Tipton and kept in the cook trailer until troopers could respond.”

When troopers responded, they discovered the body of Stanton, an employee of Sealaska, in Trailer #3 of the logging camp.

Along with the observed double-gunshot wounds to the head, State Trooper Robert Jensen noted in his report that “there were several .22 caliber casings and an unspent (unfired live round) lying on the floor near Stanton.”

Although court documents allege Murphy initially confessed that he “was responsible for Stanton’s death,” once troopers arrived, Murphy stated, “I am not in possession of a firearm. The interview was terminated after Murphy stated he didn’t want to talk.”

Ely told the Daily News that troopers did not initially recover the alleged murder weapon the day of Stanton’s death.

“I went down, I think two days later, to assist in a search for the (alleged murder) weapon,” Ely said. “It was discarded, I guess is the best way to put it.”

“(The alleged murder weapon) was recovered; it was recovered in a clear cut,” Ely explained. “Initially the investigation indicated that it could either be in a clear cut or in the bay, and I know that the troopers used underwater cameras and searched the bay and didn’t come across it, so then we all kind of got together, went back and searched the clear cut and did recover a weapon.”

Alaska State Troopers Public Information Officer Supervisor Tim Despain confirmed to the Daily News that the weapon located was a .22 caliber rifle, a Ruger 10/22 with a collapsible stock. Despain said the gun is believed to be the alleged murder weapon.

Troopers are still not releasing a potential motive in the shooting.

“He didn’t say that ‘I did it,’ he didn’t say ‘I didn’t do it,’” Ely explained, “he just said: ‘The state is going to have to prove it.’”

Murphy was indicted by a grand jury on Nov. 2. and was formally arraigned on Monday. He appeared telephonically at Monday’s arraignment as he was transported to Ketchikan Correctional Center following the alleged homicide.

During Monday’s arraignment, Superior Court Judge David George set an initial trial date beginning the week of Jan. 22. Asst. District Attorney Tim McGillicuddy noted that the trial might take longer than anticipated.

“Your honor, there are a number of witnesses, I think this is a two-week trial,” McGillicuddy advised the court.

Murphy’s next court hearing is an omnibus hearing expected to be held on Dec. 12. He is currently being held on $300,000 bail.

Repeated attempts for comment from Phoenix Logging and Sealaska were unsuccessful.