The man accused of beating a woman nearly to death over a period of days pleaded not guilty to two second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury on Tuesday in Seventh District Court in Grand County.
James Thomas Murphy, 50, of Moab, is being held on $300,000 bail, a sum Judge Don Torgerson was not inclined to reduce after defense attorney Stephen Stocks requested a lower bond.
Murphy was arrested and charged roughly a month ago after law enforcement officers responded to his home, according to court documents, to find a woman who had suffered brain and other injuries so severe they thought she might die.
Stocks said Murphy wanted to get out of jail after four weeks so he could be treated for his own medical issues, which allegedly include back problems that require surgery. Stocks also noted that the ongoing pandemic has put trial settings on hold, meaning his client could ostensibly be held indefinitely.
Prosecutor Matt Brooks argued that jail administrators said they were providing Murphy necessary care, but he also said the alleged victim deserves to be heard before Torgerson decided the bail issue.
Brooks also said the alleged victim could be endangered if Murphy were to be let out of jail.
Torgerson said his original order was no bail, based in large part, perhaps, to purported ties Murphy has to the wealthy former owners of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He later set it at $300,000, and that’s where he kept it, saying there was no reason to change the amount.
The judge did offer Stocks and Murphy a couple of options: They could schedule a bench trial, in which Torgerson would decide the case without a jury; or they could schedule a trial once COVID-19 restrictions governing Utah courts were moved to a lesser stage.
Stocks said he would prefer a jury trial, and Torgerson scheduled it to be held Sept. 1-4.
Murphy will return to court for a pretrial conference on July 28.