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.
The choices we make will sometimes bite us in the………
Ol’ Copper Top done hit Rock Bottom.
this guys a gangster? his real name’s clarence!
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.
Me either!! $300 that WASN’T on a goddamn food stamp card to boot!!!
When you’re angry and you punch someone it’s not a big deal. When you have a gun you shoot, the same as a punch, with drastically different results. We people often suck at thinking in the moment. So don’t have a gun or you might shoot instead of fight.
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.
Trust me , a life sentence locked up in prison with no chance of getting out , is a “consequence” , I’ve been to prison , I’d RATHER get the death penalty than life without parole ….. “Prison is a picnic” is a MYTH ……
If you really knew Clarence Murphy, your comments would be different..
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
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.
I watched the YT video of Clarence’s interrogation , I watch those kinds of videos every now and then , and I have to say , Clarence’s was probably the saddest one I have watched …. Especially at the end when he and his girlfriend were talking , and Clarence was in agony knowing he “messed” up , and at one point he said “and I was just about to get a job and live right” (which is what ALL these people need to do immediately top priority and GET OUT of that gangster drug garbage) ….. OBVIOUSLY what he did was just horrible , and I fully understand the people who say “but what about shad and his family ??” Yes I get that , but I have watched many of these “police crime interview videos” , and I can tell Clarence is not a bad person and wanted to straighten up , but once you slip into that gangsta garbage , you are begging for problems , and I’ll say one more thing , a lot of people will not like , but the black community is being destroyed by “welfare” and these “EBT cards” …. Notive how shad was trying to pay for his drugs with an EBT card ….. and i KNOW this is rampant and we are stupid to allow this ….. welfare is RUINING the black community (and all really , but you cannot deny the black community is gaming the system and all this free stuff is ruining people) .. work is honorable , it is good for the soul , and all of this gangsta drug thug garbage is RUINING this entire nation and it’s people ….. We have a broken society , and we are fools ….. Our prisons are FULL because of it ….. I know Clarence committed a bad crime , but I think he should have gotten “Life with possible parole” , he would have done 20 yrs probably and might could have gotten out to spend his older age , more mature age , with his kids and woman ….. I have been to prison , I was a drug addict in the 1980’s , I have seen the people , SOME are just pure evil , I don’t see that in Clarence , I see a fool caught up in the hood ghetto gangsta insanity and wishes he was not so stupid ….. hard drugs are ruining this nation , period …. I know , been there done that , it is evil stuff ruining lives by the millions
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!!!!
Truth Teller says
@ Friend – No they would not. This guy was FAR from a “level-headed angel”.
I think he didn’t death penalty because he pleaded guilty
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.
One of his baby mama says
I agree with you Family member 100%
I watched this horrible tragedy on I.D. last night..and i cant stop thinking about it. The way Ashad was groaning and flailing around..My heart was broken. All over a few hundred dollars. Dangerous people walking around with firearms. I know Mr. Murphy regrets his actions that night. One horrible decision changes everything. If only we could roll back time. May God truly keep and bless all the family and friends of Ashad and Clarence.
Sandy Wirfs says
We respect the Justice system :Romans 13. Very merciful, to give Clarence a chance to get his system cleared and his head on straight. Our hearts go out to the people involved in substance abuse since they can’t control themselves. The victims have the hope of a resurrection : John 5:28,29 The entire family suffers from the sad consequences of bad decisions. We hope they can be comforted from both sad situations. Ahmad Rashad Laster will come back drug free and forgive Clarence, his cousin. They will both be extremely sorry about the sad situation and will probably be best friends forever. Acts 24:15 Obviously, they were both headed down the wrong trail. Ahmad will be “resting”
until Jesus calls and he answers, Job 14:14 This whole thing is heartbreaking. May both families be comforted. JW.org “Enjoy Life Forever” Please contact Jehovah’s Witness if you would like a visit in prison. Sincerely , Sandy Wirfs