Before Megan Hall goes to trial in the death of Pottsville businessman Patrick Murphy, we could see a reduction in charges.
That will all depend on Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr.
Hall faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Murphy in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.
However, in the case of the death of Patrick Murphy, second-degree murder is only what the police have charged.
According to a prominent defense attorney in Louisiana, second-degree murder (like in any state) is a serious charge. And it’s also difficult to prove. That’s especially true if the only other eyewitness in the case is dead.
“The police arrest people on charges that they determine are the most appropriate under the circumstances,” says The Ambeau Law Firm in Baton Rouge, La. “Police officers are not attorneys.”
There’s a chance DA Cannizzaro seeks lesser charges. He’ll seek charges he’s most likely to win at trial.
That determination comes after he weighs the evidence collected in the initial crime scene assessment and follow-up investigation.
“What a police officer perceives and what can be proven at trial are often times very different,” the law firm writes.
Of course, there’s another side to this coin. Police could have charged Hall initially with first-degree murder. That charge carries the possibility of the death penalty.
However, it seems more likely we’ll see charges reduced.
Reason to Doubt it was Murder?
Presumably, Hall is a prostitute and met Murphy in New Orleans. He was there on a trip with his wife at the time. At some point on the night of the 27th/28th, Murphy and his wife separated.
Murphy and Hall ended up at the seedy one-star Empress Hotel in the Treme section of New Orleans, walking distance from the French Quarter. They checked in together after 2 a.m. February 28. But just before 4 a.m., Hall “briskly” left the hotel alone.
After daybreak, hotel staff discovered Murphy’s dead body in the same room he rented earlier that morning. Police ruled it “homicide by cutting” and eventually issued a warrant for Hall’s arrest. They charged her with second-degree murder.
The more any armchair sleuth begins to connect the parts of this story, you understand how difficult these initial charges will be to prove.
Hall plans to fight the charges against her.