The courtroom was packed on Tuesday afternoon as Judge Ann Moorman sentenced former Ukiah Police Sergeant Kevin Murray to two years of formal probation, with a guarantee of two years in state prison if he violates the terms.
Murray will get one chance to slip up on probation, Moorman declared. “If you miss an appointment,” she promised; “if you have a beer. One step on this side of the line, and you are going to the joint.”
Murray was originally charged with multiple sex crimes and burglaries, but pled no contest to one felony count of intimidating a witness and one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment. Each crime involved a separate victim who accused him of sexual assault. Moorman told the public that “it was very clear to the court” that the District Attorney’s office was proceeding on the good faith belief that if the case went to trial, the prosecution could not prove Murray’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Deputy District Attorney Heidi Larson said she had “no comments” when she was approached outside the courtroom, so it is not clear why the DA did not summon a third woman, whose claim of an assault in a hotel room is now proceeding in civil court, as a witness. It is widely known that the third victim, a former Ukiah Police officer, is pursuing her case against Murray in civil court because the District Attorney declined to prosecute. In a memorandum submitted one day before the sentencing, Larson wrote that the statute of limitations had expired in that case, but that “this possible third victim…may still have her day in court.”
Larson’s memorandum referred extensively to a probation report prepared by the Sonoma County Adult Probation Department, which recommended a stiffer penalty than the one agreed to by Murray’s defense attorney’s and the District Attorney in July. While she did not allude to the omission in her memorandum, Larson told the court on Tuesday that “It is a bit dismaying to the People that Sonoma County did not get Jane Doe’s report,” which included the fact that Murray was armed at the time that he committed a sexual assault which was later reduced to misdemeanor false imprisonment. Moorman said she had also not gotten that report.
Moorman invited Jane Doe to speak to the court, but due to difficulties with the remote connection, only several loud shrieks of sustained electronic feedback were audible. It is unclear at this time if Jane Doe knew she was being offered an opportunity to speak. Multiple people who were tuning in to the proceedings via zoom complained that they were unable to see or hear what was taking place.
Larson wrote that her office now disagrees with the indicated sentence of probation with no additional jail time that Moorman telegraphed she would impose at a hearing in July. Larson wrote that the prosecution did not join in that sentence at the time, and urged the court to impose “additional punishment,” including further incarceration. Murray has served 104 days in county jail.
Murray was originally charged with breaking into a motel room twice, each time sexually assaulting a woman known as SY. Though that charge was replaced with the felony of intimidating a witness, which means he will not have to register as a sex offender, Larson asserted that “the court is required to consider the crimes originally charged and factor in those facts in crafting an appropriate criminal sanction.”
Moorman told the public that she could sentence Murray for 16 months or two years. She does not believe the charges merit 16 months, and that if she sentenced him to a three-year suspended sentence, the sentence would be overturned on appeal. However, she dismissed an alternative recommendation, that Murray go to county jail for 364 days, as “unsound,” because that would knock out the possibility of supervised probation. “We won’t have anything left to sanction him with if he goes to county,” she said. “Do we want the sanction to be nominal, de minimis? No, we do not.” She insisted that the sentence “should not be interpreted as a slap on the wrist, or disparate leniency not accorded to other defendants;” and that the victims as well as Murray himself “deserve finality.”
Moorman ordered Murray to report to Mendocino County Probation, which will then refer his case to the probation department in the county where he resides. She ordered him to continue receiving counseling from Veterans Affairs for PTSD he claims to suffer as a result of his military service and his time as a police officer. He has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and is under psychiatric treatment for the condition. She also ordered him to participate in a certified treatment program for sex offenders for at least one year. It was undetermined exactly which program he would participate in, since her preferred program is three years, and Murray will only be on probation for two years.
Murray is also forbidden to own weapons or have alcohol or any drug paraphernalia on his person or any property he owns. He will not be allowed to go to businesses whose primary business is selling alcohol. He must submit a DNA sample to the court, and he will be subject to search and seizure and drug testing at any time of day or night by any sworn police officer.
Moorman told Murray she believes he is genuinely remorseful, as expressed in a letter he wrote to her earlier this month; but that genuine remorse and the harm caused by his conduct are not mutually exclusive.
“The damage you have done to the Ukiah Police Department cannot be underestimated,” she told him near the end of the proceeding. “It will take generations for trust in law enforcement to be fully restored because of your conduct.”