RIDGWAY - O’Ryan Murphy would be 10 years, seven months, four weeks, and two days old on Friday if his life were not cut short in an apartment on Main Street in Ridgway at 8:20 a.m. on February  3, 2016.
Ridgway Borough Police were dispatched to the Main Street apartment along with an ambulance for a report of a five-year-old child not breathing. Arriving within six minutes, emergency responders found the child lying motionless on the living room floor, which was also the exclusive living quarters for all the apartment occupants, according to police records. The boy was unresponsive and cold to the touch, and officials felt he had been dead for several hours. 
O'Ryan's body was covered with injuries, including bruising on his arm and his torso near his belly button, two bite marks, and a scratch on his face. The emergency officials tried to revive him, but ultimately failed after a heroic effort. At 8:42 a.m., Elk County Coroner Michelle Muccio arrived at the apartment and pronounced O’Ryan dead at the scene, agreeing that he had been dead for several hours.
Scott Jeffrey Murphy, 30, and Kristy Murphy, 40, resided in the apartment at 149 1/2 Main St. in Ridgway and had been the caretakers of five-year-old O’Ryan Murphy and his four-year-old brother. The children had been left there on Dec. 3, 2015, by their parents, Daniel Murphy and Ashlee Druhot, both of Meadville. In those two months, O'Ryan and his younger brother had never been visited by their parents.
Police said the living conditions in the apartment were deplorable. According to court records, the children were exposed to animal feces on the floor, decomposing garbage throughout the residence, general filth, and very little to no internal heat despite the winter season and external freezing temperatures. Police noted several items dangerous to a child’s health were readily accessible throughout the apartment, including multiple prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, alcohol, and several weapons, including knives and a blackjack. The apartment was deemed unfit for human occupation by the Ridgway health inspector James Hall and was condemned.
An autopsy was conducted on the child’s body, and the cause of death was ruled as blunt force trauma to the head. According to court records, police allege that either Scott or Kristy Murphy, both of whom have physically violent tendencies and were drug offenders, bludgeoned O’Ryan over the head multiple times. Scott has previous charges from both Elk and Crawford counties for aggravated assault and resisting police officers. Kristy has previous charges in Elk and Crawford counties for resisting arrest, possession of dangerous weapons, retail theft, and drug offenses. 
"The cause of death is blunt force trauma to the head and trunk, and this death has been ruled a homicide," said Coroner Michelle Muccio.
Scott Murphy was charged with homicide; aggravated assault with extreme indifference to the value of human life, a first-degree felony; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and on a person less than six years of age, both second-degree felonies; two charges of endangering the welfare of children, third-degree felonies; simple assault and possessing a prohibited weapon, first-degree misdemeanors; recklessly endangering another person, a second-degree misdemeanor. Kristy Murphy was charged with homicide, aggravated assault, a first-degree felony; two counts of endangering the welfare of children, third-degree felonies; and simple assault and prohibited offensive weapons, a first-degree misdemeanor. In addition to the defendants, the parents of O'Ryan Murphy both also have criminal records, with his mother Ashlee Dawn Druhot currently serving time in prison and was unable to attend the sentencing hearing. 
Druhot, 28, of both Crawford and Mercer counties, was one of eight people arrested in the February 19 drug bust at 401 North Broad Street in Ridgway, where she and others had moved into, shortly before the Elk County Drug Task Force takedown. After a month-long investigation, the task force obtained a search warrant for the location and ended up seizing 44 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 130 bags of heroin, five grams of marijuana, three buprenorphine strips, seven cell phones, $767 in cash, and a large amount of drug paraphernalia related to the use of meth and heroin. She remains in Elk County Prison. 
In separate hearings on Friday at the Elk County Courthouse, both defendants accepted responsibility for the death of O'Ryan Murphy. Scott pled guilty to the third degree murder charge while Kristy gave a Nolo Contendere plea. The results are much the same, but as is often the case in legal matters, a short term can mean a world of difference in future proceedings.
Nolo contendere is a legal term from the Latin phrase for "I do not wish to contend." It is also referred to as a plea of no contest. In criminal trials in Pennsylvania, it is a plea where the defendant neither admits nor disputes a charge, serving as an alternative to a pleading of guilty or not guilty. While not technically a guilty plea, a no-contest plea has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea and is often offered as a part of a plea bargain. A conviction arising from a nolo contendere plea is subject to any and all penalties, fines, and forfeitures of a conviction from a guilty plea in the same case. It can be considered as an aggravating factor in future criminal actions. However, unlike a guilty plea, a defendant in a nolo contendere plea may not be required to allocate, or speak aloud, the charges. This means that a nolo contendere conviction typically may not be used to establish either negligence per se, malice, or whether the defendant committed the acts at all in later civil proceedings related to the same set of facts as the criminal prosecution.
On June 28, 2016, the Elk County District Attorney's Office filed the Commonwealth's Certification and Notice of Aggravating Circumstances to Pursue the Death Penalty against both of the Murphy's. As a death penalty or capital case, much of the court proceedings and motions since that date have been filed as “sealed entry." This is standard practice in capital cases. As the first order of business before each case, Elk County District AttorneyThomas G.G. Coppolo withdrew the certification of the cases as capital cases, which allowed the cases to proceed without seal from this point forward. Attorney Fred D Hummel acting as Chief Defense Attorney for Scott Murphy, and Public Defender Gary Allen Knaresboro, acting as Chief Defense Attorney for Kristy Murphy, proceeded with the cases in front of Elk County Senior Judge Richard Masson.
Volumes of sealed records, court proceedings, and expert witness testimony from both the prosecution and the defense were entered into evidence. After years of negotiations back and forth, including many cases of conflicting expert witness testimony. The third-degree murder charge was accepted as part of a plea deal for both defendants, with a full sentence of 20 years, with eligibility for parole beginning after eight years. 
The five years that the Murphy’s have spent in Elk County custody will be credited as time-served in the records, which means the Murphy’s could be eligible for parole in three years. Both defendants waived their rights to pre-sentencing reports before being sentenced, which would have taken over a month to compile. 
Slumped in his chair in the orange jumpsuit of the Elk County Prison, Scott Jeffrey Murphy showed no emotion. Kristy Murphy, wearing the Centre County red jumpsuit and the gray slippers that inmates are issued there, was handed tissues several times by her attorney. The Murphy's were not permitted to speak to each other in the courtroom and only exchanged passing glances over the course of the proceedings. 
As O'Ryan's grandmother, Garnett Druhot, spoke in court on Friday and expressed her displeasure over the sentencing, and read a victim impact statement from her daughter to both defendants through bouts of tears and recriminations. She made clear in one statement, to both Scott and Kristy Murphy, "You were just supposed to take care of him; what happened?"

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