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Jury Begins Deliberating Case Against Lompoc Man Accused of Killing Santa Maria Woman

Clay Murray charged in connection with fatal shooting of Rebecca Yap in October 2014

Murder defendant Clay Murray, right, and his attorney, Adrian Galvan, stand as the jury enters the Santa Maria courtroom on Tuesday. A Superior Court jury began deliberating Murray’s fate, and will resume on Thursday. Click to view larger
Murder defendant Clay Murray, right, and his attorney, Adrian Galvan, stand as the jury enters the Santa Maria courtroom on Tuesday. A Superior Court jury began deliberating Murray’s fate, and will resume on Thursday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Jurors began deliberating the fate of Clay Martin Burt Murray on Tuesday after hearing closing arguments in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial for the Lompoc man accused of killing a Santa Maria woman in 2014.

Murray, 67, has been charged with murder for the October 2014 shooting of Rebecca Yap, 37, of Santa Maria in his home on the 300 block of North Daisy Street in Lompoc.

Authorities contend Murray planned the attack as revenge because Yap stole drugs and a credit card from him, while defense attorneys argued their client acted in self-defense and called him a disabled Vietnam War veteran.

Starting with opening statements March 2 in Judge Gustavo Lavayen’s courtroom, jurors several times watched a chilling video, with images and audio, revealing interactions before and after the fatal shooting, including the victim’s haunting screams.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley called Murray mean, calculated, unforgiving and relentless.

“He had plenty of chances to let Rebecca live,” Foley said. “But he chose her death, and that was not his choice. Because of his choice, I’m going to ask that you hold him accountable for first-degree murder.”

The video shows Murray beating Yap with a broken pool cue, and later demanding she lie on the bed and put on handcuffs. 

“This was his chance to get his revenge,” Foley said. 

In the middle of the altercation, but off camera, Murray can be heard entering a digital code for a safe. 

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley delivers closing arguments in the murder trial of Clay Murray in a Santa Maria courtroom on Tuesday. Click to view larger
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley delivers closing arguments in the murder trial of Clay Murray in a Santa Maria courtroom on Tuesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“He made the choice to go for the gun in the safe, and that is the intent to kill,” Foley said. 

Off camera, one gunshot is followed by Murray saying, “Next one’s in you,” Foley said.

A second gunshot can be heard off camera. 

After the shooting, Murray shouted, “Halt, intruder,” to set up his self-defense claim, Foley said..

“The defendant is that calculated. He literally has ice in his veins,” Foley added. “In that crazy violence, he is able to pull that together so his neighbors hear him calling ‘Halt, intruder.’ He is that ruthless.”

Attorney Adrian Galvan, who represented Murray along with co-counsel Michael Carty, denied Murray intended to kill the woman.

“His plan wasn’t to murder. His plan wasn’t to rob. His plan wasn’t to kidnap. It was to confront,” Galvan said. “And however stupid of a plan it was, however unreasonable of a plan it was, however all of us think of Clay Murray’s actions in putting forth his plan, he did not want to kill Rebecca Yap.”

When Murray wielded the cue stick to hit Yap, those blows did not intend to kill the woman, Galvan said.

“If he wanted to murder Rebecca Yap, he could have hit her over the head and essentially beat her to death,” Galvan said. “Mr. Murray indicated, and the video shows, he wasn’t hitting her on the head. He was, in his testimony, consciously hitting her in places, as he put it, not to inflict serious bodily injury.”

The defense attorney also denied Murray was robbing Yap — the video shows him taking her cellphone — or kidnapping her during the altercation. 

Galvan called the killing self defense, noting Murray shouted “drop the weapon,” several times.

“He reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger in being killed,” Galvan said, adding that Yap at some point became armed with the broken cue stick and a pair of scissors.

Jurors will resume deliberations on Thursday morning.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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