A week from today, the state of Louisiana will take its first step in presenting a case of murder against Megan Hall.
They accuse her of killing Pottsville businessman Patrick Murphy in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.
On March 14, at 3 p.m., is the preliminary hearing. That’s where prosecutors lay out their case for second-degree murder against Hall. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana.
If Louisiana can present enough evidence that shows Hall killed Murphy that night, the case will go to trial.
And that’s when we are going to learn a lot more than many thought we’d hear about this case.
Locals Jumped to Conclusions
When news broke that Murphy was killed in New Orleans late last month, there was a rush to judgement locally.
It’s like some people with little or no connection to Murphy, created a bond with him based purely on him being from here. That’s the “our lad” effect.
Some even took the next step. Shortly after police named Hall the only suspect in the crime, locals began trolling Hall’s suspected Facebook profile.
After you hear the results of her and Murphy’s lone encounter at the Empress Hotel on Feb. 28, perhaps it’s natural to assume the worst of her. She’s a prostitute who flaunted the lifestyle vs. Murphy, who’s generally seen in a positive light.
Then came what we believe is a telling moment in this not-so-airtight case against Hall so far.
Just more than 48 hours after police named her a suspect, Hall appeared at the Orleans County Jail in New Orleans. With an attorney in tow, she turned herself in. She’s there today, on $750,000 bail.
That’s not exactly the move many expected. At least, not locally.
Megan Hall’s Defense
So when court resumes next week in the case of murder against Megan Hall, what will she say?
When Hall appeared at a bail hearing earlier this week, her attorney John Fuller vowed a fight. He said: “There is definitely more to the story.”
Of course, this is what you expect a defense attorney to say.
Another indicator that a public fight is impending — Hall’s infamous Facebook profile is now gone. Some of the same Schuylkill County snoops who found her original profile there, believed there was a new “cleaned up” version. But by Wednesday night, even that one is hard to find or has been unpublished.
If there wasn’t more to the story, a trial would be pointless.
But if you assumed she is guilty, you wouldn’t expect her to do what she did on Sunday.
And the more you consider the circumstances — and that’s purely what this all is right now — the more you see the case for murder is going to be difficult to prove.
Unfortunately for Murphy’s case (and for his family and those in the community who revered him), he is not here to tell his story. It could become a case of what she said vs. what he did.
First Public Hints This Case Isn’t Cut-and-Dry
Credit someone a little closer to the scene for posing the first questions that didn’t assume Hall was guilty of cold-blooded murder.
“This story is bugging me,” writes Colleen Kane Gielskie (@eiksleig) on Twitter, not long after details of the crime emerge. Gielskie is formerly the assistant director of the ACLU of Louisiana.
She wonders — doesn’t assume either way — who may have committed the crime that night.
No History of Violence
“We have 62 year-old Patrick Murphy who is in (New Orleans) on vacation with his wife. Thursday morning, he turns up stabbed to death in a cheap hotel. As all the media coverage of this case is happy to tell us, Hall was first arrested on prostitution charges in (New Orleans) in 2012, and several times again since here & elsewhere,” she writes.
Quick point of reference: Hall’s first prostitution arrest happened in 2012 in Tennessee. At the time this was posted on social media, Hall’s exact records were unclear.
Hall’s previous experience is likely to be a key factor in her defense.
Yes, she’s likely been a prostitute her entire adult life (7 years). But there’s no history of violent crimes.
Gielskie adds, “Women don’t stab men for a very long list of reasons. And stabbing tends to be a crime of passion, of rage, or of fear.
“If Hall did kill Murphy, why? What did he do? What did he say? What happened in those two hours that a young woman with no apparent history of violence would kill a man who was presumably paying her for sex? It doesn’t make sense.”
To counter what Gielskie writes here, if you wanted to split hairs on the validity and reality of Facebook posts, Hall’s profile was not without references to violence. There was one post where she posted a photo of two handguns, “his and hers” she wrote. But there’s no proof the guns were hers or if she even took the photo.
Still, she asks very valid questions. And these questions, presumably, Hall will answer in the next week or so. She’ll have to or it’ll be the end of the road for her.
“Right now, the media angle is that a wonderful husband/father/businessman was murdered by a dirty hooker. They parade her arrest history as if to suggest that it somehow creates this path of criminality leading inevitably to murder, which is bullshit,” she adds.
No Robbery Suspected
Hall stands accused of just one crime, second-degree murder. Sure, it’s a serious crime. But the lack of a robbery or any related charges suggests Murphy may not have been robbed. Was this just a murder in cold blood in a seedy New Orleans hotel?
The lack of charges certainly punches a hole in the merits of a robbery-gone-wrong motive. Knowing what we know of Murphy, he would have likely been a prime target for a robbery in this situation.
And as Gielskie points out in her tweet thread, the police have no reason to withhold information that indicates Murphy was robbed.
“If anything it would give the public more ways to potentially ID the suspect, like she tried to sell a watch or something,” she writes. “That eliminates the most statistically and logically probable motive for the killing.”
Also, consider this: Murphy paid for the room, so it’s fair to assume he had money on him.
So, what about that struggle in the Empress Hotel room Hall and Murphy rented?
Guests in the hotel tell police they heard a loud argument during the time the two were in the room. Then, they heard a brief scuffle. Hall yelled, “Get in the bathroom!” at Murphy, presumably. And then shortly after that, Hall leaves the Empress “briskly” through the front door.
What, besides the bill, would a prostitute and her john argue about enough to cause a fight?
Hall’s case likely hinges on what happened to provoke that struggle. What caused Hall to kill Murphy, as police suggest?
“It doesn’t take 2 hours to stab a man and take his wallet, his watch, his jewelry. If he put up a fight, maybe 10 minutes? Maybe she needed the 2 hours to get up the nerve,” Gielski asks in that tweet last week.
What’s Not Adding Up
Still, it seems unlikely that after 7 years on the street, Hall would suddenly put it all at risk by killing a tourist john at the beginning of the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans.
There’s the issue of the ID. When they checked into the room, Murphy paid but Hall booked it under her name. She used her ID. A street-wise prostitute certainly wouldn’t do this. That seems to punch another hole in any pre-meditation motives.
Instead, it points to something that happened in the Empress room that caused Hall to snap.
And in a week, it’s likely we’ll hear what that was.
Gielski simply asked the questions anyone with little connection to the case would ask. She says, “Maybe Megan Hall killed him just because she wanted to. Maybe she did rob him and the cops are just keeping it quiet. I don’t KNOW what happened in that room. Only Megan does. But you know, even if the worst assumptions about her are true, I still want to hear her side of the story.”
She adds, people — especially here in Pennsylvania — are jumping to the conclusion that she was wrong and Murphy was the victim. She counters, “No one yet has been quoted saying what a tragedy it is that Megan Hall ended up in that hotel room with a man who was more than 2x her age and who was cheating on his wife.”
PAT MURPHY MURDER CASE FULL COVERAGE
- “Get in the Bathroom!” Last Words Pat Murphy Likely Heard
- Will the DA Seek Lesser Charges in the Death of Patrick Murphy?
- Murphy Murder Suspect Arrested Sunday in NOLA
- Schuylkill County Residents Trolling Pat Murphy’s Alleged Murderer on Facebook
- Murphy Murder Suspect Has Illicit History, Faces 2nd Degree Murder
- Pottsville Expressing Grief Over Pat Murphy’s Murder
- Pottsville Businessman Pat Murphy Murdered in New Orleans