A Mendocino County judge unexpectedly announced a delay Wednesday in the scheduled sentencing of Kevin Murray, a former Ukiah Police sergeant in a high-profile police misconduct case that has stirred controversy.
Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman offered no explanation, nor set another sentencing date. Murray, 38, will be sentenced at a ‘date to be determined,’ according to Moorman’s order filed Wednesday morning.
Courthouse personnel initially thought the delay was for “safety reasons” because of a public protest and sign display that had erupted on the sidewalk outside of the Mendocino County Courthouse a day earlier and then resumed Wednesday morning. Later in the day, however, courthouse staffers said the reason seem to shift to a “scheduling conflict” for the judge. Then there was talk the judge was suffering from a shoulder injury. The specific reason for the sentencing delay remains unclear.
Murray’s defense attorney Stephen Gallenson of Santa Rosa said Wednesday he had been informed of the delay “but I don’t know any more than you do.” District Attorney David Eyster and deputy prosecutor Heidi Larson did not respond to requests for comments.
Murray’s sentencing is caught up in controversy after a sweetheart plea bargain was announced in early July on the eve of his trial on five felony charges. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster suddenly dropped three felony sex-related offenses, despite the independent claims of two women that are supported by the contentions of a third in a pending civil lawsuit against Murray.
Instead, the former high-ranking Ukiah police officer in July was allowed to enter ‘no contest’ pleas to a felony charge of intimidating a witness, a woman he assaulted in a Ukiah motel room in November 2020, and a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge related to a person identified in court documents only as ‘Jane Doe.’ She has been reported as a former friend of one of Murray’s former wives who lived in Lake County. Attorney Gallenson said Wednesday that the woman in fact lived in Mendocino County, but he believes she is no longer resides in the area. That woman told investigators the officer came to her home twice in 2014 and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He had his service weapon at the time, she said.
In addition to the sex acts outlined in the original criminal complaints, Murray is also accused by a former Ukiah police officer in a pending civil lawsuit of attempting to sexually assault her in 2012 while both were attending an out-of-town training session. She said Murray came to her motel room, fondled her breasts, and then he stripped naked. She fled to the bathroom but when she later opened the door, he was standing in front of her with an erect penis. The woman told investigators she retreated back into the bathroom and slept on the floor until she heard Murray snoring. She found him naked on her bed, and hurriedly left the room. The woman, now a Mendocino County sheriff’s deputy, contends that police department superiors turned a blind eye to her complaints.
Further, in Murray’s record is also a $1 million settlement the city of Ukiah paid to a resident who was seriously injured in 2018 during an altercation with the officer resulting from a neighborhood disturbance. Christopher Rasku, a Navy veteran, said Murray’s assault left him with four broken ribs, a punctured lung, and other injuries.
Attorney Gallenson late last week on Murray’s behalf filed a sentencing memorandum urging the court to stick to an agreed-upon plea agreement that he said called for no jail time.
County probation officers have turned over a report to the court which apparently recommends a 12-month jail term as part of probation. The probation report is not publicly available for review until post-sentencing.
Gallenson said Wednesday that he filed the memorandum last Friday to remind Judge Moorman of her apparent agreement not to impose any jail time on Murray if no surprises were uncovered by the probation office. “It was part of our negotiated agreement,” he said.
As for Murray, Gallenson said his client is eager to get past the sentencing. In his memorandum to Moorman, Gallenson said Murray has no prior convictions of any kind, and that his military background – two tours of duty in Iraq as a military policeman – and his personal history “all suggest that he will be a successful probationer.”