Monday, June 18 , 2018, 6:56 am | Fair 50º


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Jurors Watch Video of Attack As Lompoc Homicide Trial Opens

Jurors in the trial for Clay Martin Burt Murray on Friday watched chilling video showing the defendant attacking a Santa Maria woman as she screamed for help in his Lompoc home three years ago before fatally shooting her.

Clay Martin Burt Murray
Clay Martin Burt Murray

But defense attorneys for the 67-year-old Vietnam veteran denied he planned the October 2014 attack that left Rebecca Yap, 37, dead in the yard of the residence in the 300 block of North Daisy Street in Lompoc.

During the opening statements in a Santa Maria courtroom, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley showed surveillance camera video and audio depicting the interaction between the defendant and the victim. Foley said Yap wanted to live.

“But no amount of pleading or begging was going to satisfy the defendant’s thirst for revenge,” Foley said. “He wanted to get Rebecca so bad that he planned for the attack, and once he started and executed that attack he never stopped until he shot her to death in his own home with a .45-caliber handgun.”

The woman suffered a single wound to her abdomen and died after the violent altercation with Murray, where he used a broken cue stick to beat the woman whose cries for help prompted a neighbor to call police. Officers asked Yap who shot her.

“Rebecca, in her dying gasps, said the defendant shot her. And you’ll hear that,” Foley said.

Murray was detained at the scene, providing police with a dramatic version of what he says was Yap’s attack on him. 

But surveillance video revealed a different story, including Murray beating the woman with a stick while she screamed in pain before the man demanded she don handcuffs. After the woman used the stick to hit Murray, he later could be heard opening a safe and withdrewing the gun as she pleaded, “Just let me go.”

Armed with the gun, Murray fired two shots, one of which hit Yap, who shouted, “Help me. He shot me. Help. Help. Help. Help.” As Yap stumbled outside, Murray could be heard shouting, “Halt. Intruder.” 

“Within seconds, the defendant was trying to cover his tracks,” Foley said. 

He said text messages found on cellphones will reveal Murray wanted the woman killed because he believed Yap, a drug user, stole from him.

“The evidence will show that this is not an impulsive act. This is something the defendant had been planning for some time before that night,” Foley said.

Defense attorney Adrian Galvan, who is co-counsel with Michael Carty, said Murray is a disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. His physician will testify about the man’s diagnosis, Galvan added.

“Clay Murray isn’t a monster. Clay Murray isn’t a killer. Clay Murray isn’t a robber. Clay Murray isn’t a kidnapper,” Galvan said, adding that his client is not guilty.

Noting that the video is hard to watch, Galvan said it does not represent Murray’s finest moment.

“There’s a back story,” Galvan said, adding that Murray and the victim had a drug-related relationship. “The back story is that a few days prior to this incident, Clay Murray suspected Rebecca of stealing his methamphetamine, so that angered him. The text messages that the prosecutor alluded to will show the back story, what led to Oct. 13, 2014, at approximately 8:30 p.m.”

The defense attorney said Murray will reveal what he was thinking and feeling the night of shooting.

“There is an explanation. There’s more to this story than the video, and you’ll hear all of that from the witnesses and from Mr. Murray himself,” Galvan said. 

The defense attorney noted that Murray received several injuries caused by the altercation with Yap during the time the woman wielded the stick against the man.

At the end of day Friday, Judge Gustavo Lavayen instructed jurors to return at 9 a.m. Monday for further testimony in the trial.

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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