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Ex-Bunnell Cops John and Lisa Murray Plead Out, Avoiding Jail Time

| February 24, 2012

Lisa and John Murray signed their plea agreements immediately after Judge Raul Zambrano accepted them this morning in Flagler County Circuit Court. (© FlaglerLive)

Ex-Bunnell cop John Murray’s trial on six felony charges ended this morning in a plea agreement as Murray pleaded no contest to a charge of possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana. Five other charges were dropped. Flagler County Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano sentenced Murray to 18 months’ probation and 50 community service hours and $1,000 in court costs. Murray will not serve jail time, but he can no longer be a police officer.

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Immediately after John’s plea, his wife, Lisa, pleaded no contest to a theft charge in connection with the incident with a Bunnell merchant two years ago that triggered the state attorney’s investigation into the Bunnell Police Department and the Murrays’ conduct. The theft charge was new. Lisa Murray had originally been charged with official misconduct. That charge was dropped. She, too, will serve no jail time. Her plea agreement diverts her to a pre-trial intervention. She’ll be on probation for 12 months and pay $500 in court costs.

John Murray had faced two charges of tampering with evidence, charges of cocaine possession, Xanax possession (without a prescription) and marijuana possession, and official misconduct. At trial on Wednesday, he denied any wrong-doing, saying he took pills as pain medication but had never–as accused–been a provider of prescription pills or other drugs to Dawn Davis, an ex-live-in girlfriend. He also denied having possessed marijuana.

That last charge, his attorney, Michael Lambert said, became a problem for Murray when the prosecution showed him a document, which he had signed, establishing him as the supervisor on a marijuana case in Bunnell in 2009. Murray supervised other cops uprooting marijuana plants on the lot of an abandoned house on Stone Street, but the plants never made it to evidence at the police department. Lambert disputed the prosecution’s assumption that the plants were marijuana, but Murray himself, when being deposed by investigators subsequently, had referred to the plants as marijuana, making it difficult for the defense to sustain complete innocence. The plea, however, was a victory for the Murrays, considering the light consequences.

“The only thing we entered a plea to was the marijuana,” Lambert said after the plea this morning. “That was the one where he was the supervisor at the scene. So even if it was the other person’s responsibility, John is still responsible, because he was the supervisor. So there really was no way out of that. That’s why he said–you know, he’s not saying that he did it, but he’s saying no contest, because I can’t contest the fact that it is my responsibility to have checked that and make sure that Wolfle did it, and he didn’t do that.” Lambert was referring to Bunnell police officer Christopher Wolfle who, when questioned on the stand on Wednesday, said Murray had told him he’d take care of the plants, and not to write a report.

“With regard to all the other charges, he still said I’m not guilty, and the state concurred by dismissing them all,” Lambert said.

“That was the most important thing for us is that we wanted to make sure that they can never be police officers again,” Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis said, which means they have to relinquish their certification as law enforcement officers. (John Murray’s had expired.) “We’re very pleased with the investigation that we were able to successfully get their certification to make sure that they didn’t cause any more problems or influence people or do things wrong again.”

Lewis said that the plea agreement won’t lead to future charges against other people who may have been related to the Murray cases or the state attorney’s investigation into the Bunnell Police Department and the conduct of then-Bunnell Commissioner Jimmy Flynt. Flynt had been at at the center of allegations of favoritism, with the Murrays steering business to his wrecker operation. The theft charge against Lisa Murray was the result of her taking $165 from a Bunnell merchant on behalf of Flynt, outside her prescribed duties as a police officer.

Flynt, who had sat outside the courtroom all day in the first day of trial earlier this week, was never called to the stand. A friend of the Murrays’, Flynt was not in court this morning, suggesting that he already knew that a plea agreement had been worked out. Last summer the state Ethics Commission found him in violation of ethics rules on three counts–again in connection with favoritism issues within the city–in a case brought against him by Bunnell City Commissioner Elbert Tucker.

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19 Responses for “Ex-Bunnell Cops John and Lisa Murray Plead Out, Avoiding Jail Time”

  1. Sheri Mallery via Facebook says:

    You mean to tell me that all of the glorious local cops aren’t perfect ?

  2. Nero Fiddled..... says:

    This took 2 years to accomplish……what a waste of time and taxpayers money….

  3. Time to do more mopping up says:

    Now it’s time to clean up (by decertifying) the rest of the dirty cops in this county and beyond! It is far too often we hear about dirty cops on our local news. What is even more concerning, is those that are out there that we don’t hear about. What makes this really sad is there are good cops out there that are all painted with the same brush. Will Armondo Martinez (City Manager of Bunnell who maintains his certification) be next?

  4. Honest Abe says:

    I don’t think it was a waste of time nor did it cost us that much money compared to what it would have cost if these two clowns were left to parade around the City of Bunnell pretending to be law enforcement officers. I think John got off pretty easy considering the testimony that had been given already and where the trial seemed headed. Probably the same reason Lisa jumped all over the chance to take a plea. The main thing of importance is both of their law enforcement certificates have been pulled to prevent them from further shenanigan’s elsewhere. I wonder how martinez is feeling right about now…my guess is he’s breathing a bit easier knowing the deal didn’t include testimony against his police department. His day will come, but not yet…not yet.

  5. Just the Facts says:

    Making sure two dirty cops never get to terrorize the citizens they are sworn to protect is never a waste of time or money. While this maybe a small victory for justice, the lingering thought remains that AT LEAST three other individuals should have been tried and convicted for crimes they commited. The two bottom feeders took the biggest blow, while those who made command decisions and deflected allegations through the use of political connections continue unethical and sometimes criminal practices. The question has to be asked :why did Mr. Lariza’s office not pull the trigger when they certainly could of? Nevertheless, great job by the investigators, prosecutors, and witnesses. One can only hope that the Murray’ s victims can find closure now that this trial is over.

  6. Insider says:

    No!! Well worth the time and money to ensure that these two will NEVER wear a badge again!! Instant Karma is going to get you (Lennon 1970)!!

  7. Riley says:

    WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How do they go from three felonies to community service????????????? PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW THIS IS JUSTICE.

  8. Tommy B says:

    Was justice served? I wonder? Should there been others brought to justice?
    The Murray’s for there crimes this was just a slap on the wrist. The state should of let the justice system work,  Murray would of lost this trial and went to prison, 
    that’s why Lambert told them to plea out. In prison Murray would of been  with the boys he stole from on the streets of Bunnell, so the plea looked real good to him, after the prosecutor made him look stupid, they knew it was over.   This couple terrorized a community,  extorted, fabricated police reports,  stoled from the very poor who could not defend themselves, and they were Flynt’s own personnel collection agency.  What a racquet the x commish had going on, he was the man. Where was the city leaders when this was going on!  Turning there heads again. Armondo “I want you guys to give Flynt the tows” it’s  in the report btw and the rest of the board how can you let this crap go on! They were letting Murray funnel  wrecker calls to his very close personnel friend  Jimmy I Run This Town Flynt,  so Flynt could steal there cars from the people he was elected to serve.  Where was Art Jones turning his head looking the other way? They can’t say they didn’t know.

  9. Linda says:

    Individuals that know John and Lisa Murray know how honest people they really are. The people that have any common sense will know that both of the Murrays were set up by corrupt present and ex Bunnell cops,( if thats what you call them). Too bad that there is so much corruption and politics in the SYSTEM.

  10. Just the Facts says:

    Some people are obviously blind and ignorant. Simply read the state’s report and you’ll see that both the Murray’s got off easy, to include Flynt, Jones, and Martinez who should have been tried and convicted. Anyone who thinks the Murray’s are simply good people who were set up are willfully ignorant to the facts of the case.

    • Linda says:

      Anyone who knows the Murrays, knows the Murrays. So just the facts, your missing out on knowing the kind of people who they really are,(honest and truthful).

  11. Honest Abe says:

    Linda, if these two criminals are your friends, I’d hate to see your enemies.

  12. Honest Abe says:

    you’re kidding, right?

  13. HeathenAngel says:

    I have found that usually, when a judge doesn’t punish a dirty cop as he should, it is because that dirty cop has information that the judge doesn’t want sneaking out..

    Just something to think about.

  14. North Ditch says:

    This article mentions that Jimmy Flynt was fined for by the Ethics committee for violations related to this case and “tiregate” and a quick call to Tallahassee will tell you that Mr Flynt has never paid that fine… of thieves, I swear!

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