KSU professor disputes sentence in ex-wife murder

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A former Kansas State University English professor is claiming in a civil lawsuit that he did not receive an adequate defense in a 2005 trial that ended with his conviction for first-degree murder in his ex-wife's stabbing death.

Thomas E. Murray, 56, is serving 25 years to life in prison for the death of Carmin Ross, 40, at her home north of Lawrence on Nov 14, 2003. Murray and Ross were fighting over custody of their daughter, who was 4 at the time. Murray has always denied committing the murder.

On Tuesday, Murray's attorneys will argue in a civil case in Douglas County Court that the attorneys who represented him at the murder trial did not provide an adequate defense, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/V1lKqB ). The lawsuit was filed as a civil case under a law that allows prisoners to challenge their sentences.

Ross was beaten and stabbed 13 times. Murray was a suspect soon after her body was discovered but he wasn't arrested until nearly a year later. No physical evidence tied him to the crime scene but prosecutors showed Murray had performed Internet searches for information on how to kill someone and not get caught. He also had cuts and bruises and gave inconsistent stories to investigators.

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Murray's conviction on appeal in 2008. His earliest release date under the current sentence is Oct. 4, 2029.

When the civil case began in 2011, Murray's attorney argued that a DNA expert's testimony about blood found at the scene was different at the trial than his initial report from the crime scene. Since then, Murray's case has shifted to criticizing his attorneys at the trial.

Adam Hall, currently representing Murray, said the DNA expert's testimony surprised Murray and his defense.

"His claim is that his defense attorneys should have done something more for him at trial," Hall said Thursday.

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