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Clarence Murphy Is Sentenced To Life In Prison, No Parole, In Murder of Cousin Ahmad Laster

| May 31, 2018

Clarence Murphy Jr. arriving in court today. (© FlaglerLive)

Clarence Murphy Jr. arriving in court today. (© FlaglerLive)

May 31 Update: Three weeks ago Circuit Judge Dennis Craig told Clarence Murphy that it was in the court’s discretion to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of early release, even though Murphy had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of his cousin, Ahmad Rashad Laster, on Parkview Drive last September.

This morning, Craig did just that in a sentencing hearing attended by the Laster’s and Murphy’s families–which cross-over: the two men are cousins.

Craig had some discretion, with the minimum sentence set at 35 years. Murphy, formerly of 52 Pratwood Lane in Palm Coast, is 43, and a 35-year sentence would have amounted to close to a life sentence if imposed day for day: he would not have been released before age 78.

He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ray Warren. The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton.

The previous story is below.

Clarence Murphy Pleads to Murdering His Cousin on Parkview Dr., Faces 35 Years to Life

May 8–Clarence Murphy Jr. was arrested within hours of shooting his cousin Ahmad Rashad Laster outside of Laster’s home at 156 Parkview Drive just before 4 a.m. on Sept. 19. He was almost immediately cooperative. He had little choice. Video surveillance footage showed him as the man who shot Laster at the end of the Parkview driveway after a brief argument, moments after Murphy had texted Laster: “U been stealing from everybody someone gonna stop u.”

Murphy had actually started walking away from Laster during the argument. He then turned around and shot him in the head. Laster family members identified Murphy in the video. They also identified his car. Murphy confessed in an interview hours later with Flagler County Sheriff’s detective George Hristakopoulos.

He faced a first-degree capital murder charge. This morning before Circuit Judge Dennis Craig, Murphy pleaded out to second-degree murder as a dozen members of Laster’s family sat in the courtroom, some of them weeping, some of them holding their head in their hands, some of them walking out, distraught, immediately after the plea. Hristakopoulos sat with the prosecutors.

Murphy is known as Copper Top. He was prepared to make a statement today but will hold off until sentencing, when members of Laster’s family are also likely to make victims’ statements. Murphy will be sentenced on May 31. He faces a minimum of 35 years in prison, a maximum of life. “It is within my discretion to sentence you to life,” Craig told him, “day for day, life with no possibility of parole.”

Murphy’s sentence will be steep because the murder was committed with a firearm, and because Murphy has a long history of felony convictions.

The evidence against Murphy was overwhelming, Hristakopoulos said after the plea. Murphy immediately showed remorse, helped detectives find the firearm and wrote an apology letter to the family the day of the shooting.

Murphy and Laster had been arguing over the phone before the shooting. The argument escalated. “You know where I’m at,” he’d told Murphy, who drove up to the house at 3:48 a.m. Laster went outside to confront him.

“I knew Ahmad fairly well, when I worked for the City of Bunnell,” Hristakopoulos said. “I used to stop and talk to him on almost a daily basis. I know all his brothers, his parents, so it is very strange for me, going to his autopsy, seeing him there, recognizing that he was the victim the second that I got called out. I’ve had victims before who I’d had prior dealings with, but I think this is the first one that was a homicide and where I went and dealt with the family extensively, I kept in touch with his brothers. They helped me on the case. I was glad we were able to get a resolution and see some justice served even though obviously it’s going to be hard for the family either way. But I know they’ve been waiting for this day a long time.”

The murder charge was also a probation violation, for which he faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, a number that would be academic unless the judge imposes it consecutively with the time to be served for the murder charge. In 2010 he was sentenced to six years in state prison for drug trafficking, serving four and a half years. He was released in 2014. He’d also served 18 months from 2002 to 2004 on another drug conviction.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Prosecutor Jennifer Dunton. Murphy was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ray Warren.

Warren is also the defense attorney for Michael Cummings, the 47-year-old man accused of murdering his ex-wife, Faith Cummings, at her house on Point Pleasant Lane in Palm Coast in January. Cummings pleaded not guilty. He appeared in court today for a pre-trial. His case was continued to July 17, with depositions just starting. By then Cummings will be appearing before Judge Terence Perkins, who is taking over Flagler’s felony bench in June. His case is not likely to go to trial until much later this year, if then.

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15 Responses for “Clarence Murphy Is Sentenced To Life In Prison, No Parole, In Murder of Cousin Ahmad Laster”

  1. Mark says:

    The choices we make will sometimes bite us in the………

  2. Brian says:

    Ol’ Copper Top done hit Rock Bottom.

  3. Marshall says:

    this guys a gangster? his real name’s clarence!

  4. Outsider says:

    I dont think I will ever understand How family members kill each other at the drop of a hat, or a drug deal gone bad.

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    I’m curious as to why the death penalty wasn’t sought in this case.

    Here we have a convicted felon in possession of a fire arm committing cold blooded murder. He only shows remorse after he is arrested. Where was the remorse when he shot and killed his cousin.

    We keep seeing cases like these pop up because they are plead down. That first degree murder charge looked solid. Then a judge has to go and accept a plea and this dude goes to jail for life. Not a very fair trade is it?

    People murder more frequently when there are no consequences for it. And a life sentence is no consequence when you have taken a loved one from their family.

  6. Really says:


  7. Friend says:

    If you really knew Clarence Murphy, your comments would be different..

  8. kathy roberts says:

    Another one that will cost us a million plus to keep? Average state cost $31,000 per year. Do the math…….
    does anyone see where we could save billions? Especially rising health care cost for inmates with HIV, Hep C etc. and aging inmate population. Sickening that we have to waste so much money on this. My opinion!


    Burden on the taxpayers, whether in or out of prison

  10. Family member to both says:

    Marshall of course his name is CLARENCE it’s written over this article. For those with negative comments. You don’t know how he is feeling, and this could happen to you or your kids… nobody is exempt from committing a crime. No age,color or religion. But when we have massacre school shooting all over this country y’all try to justify it but since this happen in a small community I guess it should’ve made fox news. We all sin but some just do it differently. I love Clarence and Shad but loving them will not bring them home to us. Some people get on flaglerlive and show their ads but I can to… May Grace and Mercy follow Clarence and may Grace and Mercy strengthen Shad’s mother,brothers,sisters and friends, but at the end of the day we are STILL FAMILY! WHO DON’T MAKE MISTAKES? SOME WE JUST CAN’T CORRECT AND HAVE TO LERAN TO LIVE WITH IT.

  11. Bunnell born and raised says:

    So, we shouldn’t have prisons!? Maybe you want everyone to get death penalty!? Anyone that has a possible terminal sickness, should get the DEATH PENALTY!?…..NOPE!!!!

  12. Truth Teller says:

    @ Friend – No they would not. This guy was FAR from a “level-headed angel”.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think he didn’t death penalty because he pleaded guilty

  14. One of his baby mama says:

    I agree wit you Friend…to be honest there was a guy that Clarence went to school with that was a lawyer and he sat right beside Clarence and his lawyer. He also got on the stand and had a letter from a few classmates that went to school with him. He had some VERY positive words about Clarence also. Some people just kill me I swear. I’m just hurt and can’t believe he did it.

  15. One of his baby mama says:

    I agree with you Family member 100%

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