A sidewalk connected the doors of two apartments that are separated by about 10 feet.
Car seats, bicycles and other trappings of life with children sometimes blocked the concrete strip that ran between the units at the duplex in the Berry Street-Stalcup Road area on the east side of Fort Worth.
One of the tenants, Edward Murray, was often furious when toys were in his way.
“Stupid (racial slurs),” Murray once uttered to himself as he encountered instruments of joy. The epithet was loud enough to be heard through a door, according to his neighbor, Ashley Lacy.
It was one of many times Murray, who is white, used slurs.
Lacy lived with her longtime partner, Antonio Robinson, and three children, a 9-year-old boy and two girls who were 3 and 2. The family is Black.
Their approach was to avoid the irascible, drunken, racist man who lived next door.
They tried to stay out of his way. The back yard was understood to be Murray’s domain. The front was space to be used by Lacy, Robinson and the children.
On a Sunday evening in late September 2020, Murray came upon a ball on the sidewalk. He kicked it.
Though accounts of precisely what happened next outside the duplex on Waldorf Street are in conflict, the central element is not.
Murray went to his bedroom, where he kept a silver hammerless five-shot revolver, and from the gun fired three rounds at Robinson in the area outside their apartments that had caused Murray so much distress. Neither Robinson nor Lacy had a weapon or made physical contact with Murray when he fired upon his neighbor, Murray told Fort Worth Police Department Detective Kent Bickley in an interview.
Lacy and her 9-year-old used a sponge and towels to stanch Robinson’s bleeding. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Murray left as a passenger in a pickup truck and was driven to a home near Lake Whitney where Murray’s sister lives. He was arrested there the next day.
Murray, 57, was indicted on murder, and a jury on Tuesday found him guilty of that offense during deliberation that started at 3:56 p.m. and was done by 4:05 p.m.
On Wednesday, in about the same amount of time, the jury found that Murray should serve life in prison and pay a $10,000 fine, the crime’s maximum punishment. The panel at the trial in the 485th District Court in Tarrant County at which Judge Steven Jumes presided, was asked to select a term of between 15 and 99 years or life.
“This defendant executed his neighbor in front of his house,” Lloyd Whelchel, an assistant district attorney, told the jury in a closing argument in the trial’s first phase.
A legal advisory on the circumstances under which self-defense may justify an act was not included in instructions to the jury and appeared not to have been requested by the defense.
“He’s overwhelmingly guilty,” Whelchel said.
Murray chose not to testify at the guilt-innocence trial phase, but did take the witness stand during the defense punishment case. He told jurors he was molested, once by a boy when Murray was also a child and later by an adult.
As a young man, he used methamphetamine. At midlife, he began to drink daily.
As he was questioned on direct examination by defense attorney Taylor Ferguson, Murray said he took shots of vodka in the hours before he shot Robinson. Bethel Zehaie also represented Murray.
“I feel sorry for the family and the kids,” Murray said.
“I’m sorry that I let this happen,” the defendant testified. “It’s not about me. It’s about everybody else that I hurt.”
Murray said he agreed with Jeff Stewart, who prosecuted the case with Whelchel, that he should receive a life sentence.
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Under rules of criminal procedure, the jury was not told of Murray’s criminal history until after its guilty verdict.
Murray was in 2001 convicted in Dallas County of aggravated sexual assault of a child and served all of his 10-year sentence. The victim was a 9-year-old girl.
Just before the killing, Murray continuously banged on Robinson’s front door until Robinson stepped outside and said, “What the [expletive], Eddie,” according to Lacy’s account included in an affidavit supporting the arrest warrant in the case. Lacy followed her partner outside.
Within seconds, Murray shot Robinson. Lacy believed Murray was about to shoot her, so she went back inside of the apartment.
Lacy returned to Robinson’s side. While she was there, Lacy said she saw Murray leave his apartment and he pointed the gun at her, according to the affidavit.
Murray’s boyfriend yelled at him to leave, and they got into a pickup and drove away.
Bickley, the detective, interviewed Lacy that night in a room at the Homicide Unit office. She did not know Robinson was dead. When Bickley stepped outside, Lacy wrote a phrase of anguish on a dry erase board on the wall.
“My love will live and not die,” she added again and again.
When the detective returned, he told her that Robinson was gone.