Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Former UPD Sergeant’s Sentence Is Not a ‘Slap On the Wrist’, Argued Judge During Sentencing

Former Ukiah Police Sergeant Kevin Murray before he was fired amid allegations of sexual assault, robbery, and possession of methamphetamine [Picture for the UPD Facebook page]

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.

Kevin Murray’s mugshot [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

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.

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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.” 

Kevin Murray when he was still on the force [Picture from UPD’s 2019 accountability report]

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.” 

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  1. Wow! What a joke!! The judge in the last part of her statement is worried about the UPD being scarred from this! How about the women??

  2. No sign of any sorrow or remorse from him at all?

    That’s what’s REALLY scary.

    I’m not judging, just wondering and hoping.

  3. Oops, I commented BEFORE reading the entire article. I try to refrain from doing that for this exact reason! Judge Moorman said he wrote remorse letter. I hope that it is genuine and that it means something to the victims. And because he has a public figure it should also be addressed to the public. I have not got to read it as I’m sure you have not either. Maybe Matt can work some of his magic and publish it here on MendoFever.

    • I liked your comment before you corrected it. A couple of reasons for that: first, the “remorse” he “felt”, and wrote about to the judge, was quite belated, since he went on being a police officer FOR YEARS after committing rape and other crimes, and was even promoted, and never showed enough “remorse” for that that he might be examined before being promoted (to sergeant!) or even kept on the force. The second lack of remorse I see is the photo of him on the steps of the courthouse (with his lawyer?) yesterday (this was in the article by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat). He looks quite cheerful and proud of himself. He even has a tan, after being in jail for weeks? Wearing dark sunglasses, hair and beard trimmed… ready to be the movie star he thinks he is. Makes you sick. This whole situation is untenable and points to the need to change the laws, as well as better oversight of our law enforcement. Kind of shutting the barn door after the horses are out, but better than nothing. This has been brewing for a long time and, unfortunately, is not over yet, as there is still so much work to do, to reform legal and social services in Mendocino County. I know, I know, they are irreproachable and so hardworking, but the (also hard working) taxpayers of this county deserve far better.

  4. No judge, it’s a slap on the wrist. A criminal receiving his due because he was a cop and the system is pulling strings for him.

    • What about not holding cops to a higher standard? Not in this county. The precedent this sets should terrify the citizens of this city. Please educate yourselves.

  5. Apparently Ann Moorman’s definition of “slap on the wrist” differs from mine. When you take the oath of police officer a huge amount of trust is laid upon you. When you violate that, you should be held accountable. What does this say to the women he assaulted? Ask them if they think this was a slap on the wrist. Moorman made one thing clear, when she runs for office again, I will not vote for her. I hope the rest of you join me. I feel sorry for the his victims, Moorman and the Justice system failed you!!!!! I will end with a story, picture a lady staying in a motel out of town, she has an encounter with a police sergeant that bothers her to where she barricades the door. Later in wee hours of morning he bust through the door because the door key he stole didn’t work because of the barricade, he then sexually assaults her, A POLICE SERGEANT!!!! Can you see her? Now picture she is your daughter, I don’t know Judge Moorman do think your decision is a slap on the wrists?

  6. This MF should be in prison period! Disgrace to the community and the badge.
    Probation needs to do their job go to his house everyday piss test everyday.

  7. The whole thing about that being reduced to intimidating a witness?!!? Intimidating a witness with his dick? How is that not sexual? Omfg

    And yes, I’m glad he’s getting treated for PTSD.
    I hope my children never have to go to war. Trauma begets more trauma.

      • Trauma isn’t just from wars. This guy has traumatized his victims and ukiahians! I don’t want to be stopped by upd copper who will beat or sexually assault me! Are women of Mendocino county safe?! Rapey sergeant and they have yet to talk about ukiah Chief case. What’s next? New Chief will have a checkered background too? Alcohol or wife beating? Hmmm

  8. We’ll never know if he “”slips up” because they’ll cover that up too!…
    Do they really think we believe that they’ll uphold the law when they’ve made it perfectly clear that it doesn’t pertain to them?

  9. I applaud Judge Moorman’s sentencing on disgraced ex cop Murray. Two years supervised probation with all the terms and conditions attached will be much tougher than jail. One year of sex offender treatment, search and seizure clause, chemical testing and regular check ins is no cake walk. I am confident Probation will stay on top of this offender. There are a lot of criminal offenders who would have taken the six remaining months in jail and walked. Hopefully the treatment and accountability will have a greater impact than three hots and a cot. Remember jail time still hanging on successful completion of probation.

    • of course City officials would be okay with this light sentence considering yall covered up his actions while YOU employed and PROMOTED him disgust

    • Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for commending this mockery of a sentence that proves to the public how inept the justice system is. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for dismissing the victims and praising a judge who had close ties to the rapist Murray’s attorneys. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for allowing the disgraceful UPD to continue to cost the taxpayer of Ukiah millions of dollars in payout to victims who suffered at the hands of the officers at UPD. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for your ignorant statements about this sentence. You are so removed from the game you have no idea what this sentence does to every victim of sexual violence. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for continuously supporting abusers and sexual predators, supporting promotions of these scum who have proven themselves to be worthless good ol boys. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for not holding anyone within your sphere accountable including your fellow council member. The sheer ineptitude to keep an agency functioning to ‘Protect and Serve’. Instead, promotions, retirements, and quiet payouts are all at the cost of the people who you charm at your local hangout spilling lies and ‘misunderstandings’. Isn’t enough, enough? When do you face yourself in the mirror and realize you are the problem? Do not be fooled people, the way probation is today, which will likely be moved to his county of residence, will be nothing in comparison to the jail sentence. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown, this is not leadership this is the problem. I hope the people in the community wake up and vote you, your council members, the District Attorney, and his liege as well as the Bench who has lost all sense of justice out at their next opportunity. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown, you knew what was happening and you held no one accountable.
      Was it you or your predecessor that knew one of your officers was being assaulted by a cop and did nothing to show support, instead you dismissed her claims and supported her abuser? Nice narrative.
      Shame on every cop that supports this sentence or Mayor Jim O Brown. This behavior shows people that there is no accountability even if the victim is one of your own in your agency or another. There are amazing law enforcement officers in this county, and those of you that are, you deserve better and should demand better.
      Shame to you Mayor Jim O Brown, you are a disgrace.

  10. I don’t believe he’s getting away the rape charge that is so wrong I hope more people come forward to put this pig imprison where he belongs also need a new judge and retry him

  11. The mere fact that the Judge has to state that “This is not a slap on the wrist” shows that the Judge was concerned that it would be seen as such. I have always thought that a person in a position of trust and authority should be handed a tougher sentence. In this situation I would expect that to the women involved would not feel this was a “Slap on the wrist” but a slap in the face.

    • Exactly right, she knows it’s a slap on the wrist. I ask you when has a Judge ever commented publicly or defended their a judgement in this fashion. And Jim Brown I’am shocked at your comment, this guy has cost the City millions and more to come, Isabel will win her case!!!!!!! The crazy part is Chris Dewey, Justin Wyant, Sean Kaiser and Noble knew this guy was bad from the start and they promoted him. Can’t fix stupid!!!

  12. What a joke I still can’t believe that’s all he got judge Mormon I wonder how she sleeps at night how could she even think this was OK is she sleeping with him to or what’s going on they’re all involved they’re all part of the same messed up system here in Mendocino county they’re all in cahoots together it’s a bunch of bullshit judges , the DA , sheriffs department and police department what nextSomebody needs to come here and clean up this place

  13. boohoo…poor ukiah police department…i wonder why theres no mention of how long his victims will suffer? but hey its important to note the suffering he caused his fellow officers who now know they have a green light to plunder the community…the parents in ukiah need not have their suffering noted cuz we know our court systems are there to protectthe victimsjust like they protected officer murray from those little girls who raped him…

    • please dont let yourselves forget that at least one of officer murrays victims was “a child under the age of 12” at the time when he should have been the hero who rescued her from the drug dealers who were taking advantage of her.. but this would be hero became the worst kind of monster when he further disoriented the victim and made her know that nobody would be coming to her rescue because even the police would not help her…IMAGINE HOW HOPELESS THIS LITTLE GIRL MUST HAVE FELT WHEN THE HERO TURNED INTO A DEMON >> at that point theres noplace left to turn….and thats got to be beyond terrifying to an 11 year old little girl coming down off of speed trapped in a motel room with a monster pounding on the door who should be there to help her ..not shackle and rape her… dont let that image escape you people…because thats the reality….

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Sarah Reith
Sarah Reith
Sarah Reith is a radio and print reporter working in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, focusing on local politics and environmental news.

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