On Thursday, December 11, in the U.S. District Court in Rome, Georgia, a former Georgia judge was convicted of six federal crimes, the most serious offenses occurring in an attempt to cover up the lesser ones.
The accusations against Bryant Murphy, who served as the Murray County Magistrate from 2006-2012, including seizing and searching through a female employee’s cellphone, sexual harassment of a female employee, framing a woman for arrest, and tampering with a witness.
The litany of federal charges, according to prosecutors, stemmed from Murphy’s interactions with several females, including two who worked in the office. One employee claimed he was searching through her cell phone without permission; the other claimed multiple incidents of sexual harassment.
However, the charges for which Murray may receive the harshest sentencing involved a woman named Angela Garmley who came to the magistrate in April 2012 asking for warrants against three people who allegedly beat her. In response, according to testimony, Murray made verbal sexual advances toward her. When Garmley told her husband about the incident, he reported it to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, who launched an investigation that led to Murray’s resignation in the summer of 2012.
Shortly afterward, according to the testimony of several law enforcement officers, they received a tip from Murray that they would find drugs in Garmley’s car. Methamphetamine was found, and Garmley was arrested and charged—but the charges were dropped when the officers who arrested her admitted to obstruction. This led to the charge of framing Garmley.
Finally, after the arrest, Murray reportedly asked a friend, Mike Winkler, to lie for him and tell investigators that it was he who gave the tip to the police about the drugs in Garmley’s car. That story fell apart under further investigation, leading to the tampering charge.
The jury deliberated for a total of four hours before delivering the verdict that the former Georgia judge was guilty of all six federal counts. Murray will be sentenced on Feburary 20. He could receive up to 20 years in prison for the tampering charge alone.