CADILLAC — After a nearly eight-month hiatus, 28th Circuit Court had its first jury trial this week and it resulted in a jury finding Kirk Allen Murray guilty of three counts as charged in two sexual assault cases.
In 2019, Wexford County Prosecutor Jason Elmore charged the 33-year-old Cadillac man with two separate cases involving criminal sexual conduct. The first case included one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree CSC for sexual contact with his 11-year-old daughter on or between the dates of June 1-Oct. 1, 2018 in Cadillac.
The second case originally included counts of first-degree CSC and third-degree CSC for sexual acts upon his wife. In February, Murray was found to be not guilty on the first-degree CSC offense, but that same jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the third-degree CSC offense. As a result, that inability to reach consensus by the jury led to a hung jury on that charge.
A hung jury is a judicial jury that cannot agree upon a verdict after extended deliberation and is unable to reach the required unanimity or supermajority. Wexford County Clerk Alaina Nyman said in February the jury deliberated for nearly six hours and were brought into the courtroom twice during those deliberations. At which time, 28th Circuit Court Judge William Fagerman read instructions regarding a hung jury, Nyman said. Fagerman also offered ways the jury could reach a verdict, according to Nyman.
Although the two cases were separate, Elmore said the court granted joinder to allow for a single trial. In law, a joinder is the joining of two or more legal issues together. Procedurally, a joinder allows multiple issues to be heard in one hearing or trial and is done when the issues or parties involved overlap sufficiently to make the process more efficient or more fair.
“Murray’s wife described years of domestic abuse and violence. Victims often feel trapped, powerless, and scared that no one will believe them,‘ he said. “She described in the summer of 2019 the abuse turned sexually violent.‘
Murray’s daughter testified that eventually he turned his attention toward her when she came from Howard City for visitation with her dad and his wife, according to Elmore. It took the minor coming forward to a friend to stop this cycle, Elmore said.
Once Murray’s wife learned of the acts against the minor, Elmore said she found the strength to come forward about the abuse and sexual assault she suffered.
“I commend the dedication of the investigators and strength of these two victims who found the strength to report it and go to trial,‘ Elmore said.
Sentencing will likely occur sometime in November and Elmore said Murray faces up to life in prison.