DANVILLE — The two sides in a Vermilion County murder trial that began Tuesday gave different versions of the events that led to the July 2018 death of a rural Danville woman who was found unresponsive on the bedroom floor of her mobile home three days after she and her wife had gotten into an argument.
Steve Nate of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office said Shelley Murphy, 50, left her wife, Daye Lynn, lying unresponsive, beaten and suffering on the floor before calling anyone for help.
“She never called 911. She never called for help,” he said during opening statements of the trial in Vermilion County Circuit Court, which is expected to wrap up Thursday.
Murphy faces three counts of first-degree murder in the death of her 61-year-old wife, who was pronounced dead on July 25, 2018, at their home on Vance Lane.
Nate said in his statement that the couple had been drinking all day at their mobile home on a Sunday and got into an argument that led to Shelley Murphy allegedly hitting her wife with such force that it tore open veins in her head and bruised her brain.
An Illinois State Police crime-scene investigator testified Tuesday about the numerous blood-like stains in multiple areas of the mobile home, including the hallway.
Nate said Mrs. Murphy was left in the same spot on the floor all day the following Monday and Tuesday, breathing yet unresponsive, defecating on herself at some point.
He said 911 was not called until the following Wednesday, when Shelley Murphy’s sister came to the home to get sunglasses she had left there on Sunday and saw Mrs. Murphy still on the floor. By then, he said, so much blood had filled her head that it had pushed her brain to one side of her skull, and “she finally died from that devastating head injury.”
But Vermilion County Public Defender Mike Mara countered in his opening statement that evidence will show “something entirely different.”
He said Mrs. Murphy was “significantly bigger” than her wife and had gotten on top of her during the argument, holding her down and hitting her while Shelley Murphy tried to push her off. Then, Shelley Murphy swung, hitting her wife “in the head once to get her off of her.”
He said both had been drinking all day, so Shelley Murphy went to sleep and woke up the next morning to find her wife still face down on the floor.
“Shelley did her best to take care of her,” said Mara, adding that she did not call 911 and should have but took care of her.
He said Shelley Murphy talked to her wife and got some responses, including asking if she wanted her to call 911, to which she shook her head “no.” He said Shelley Murphy cleaned her up after she defecated and urinated and called her mom for advice, ultimately deciding that her wife was sleeping off the alcohol.
Vermilion County sheriff’s Deputy Chris Turner testified that Shelley Murphy told him at the scene that she and her wife had both been drinking heavily on Sunday and had gotten into a fist fight, and Mrs. Murphy laid down and never got up again. Turner said Shelley Murphy told him that she cleaned her wife up after she defecated, gave her ice chips to hydrate, and asked her if she was OK, to which she said she nodded “yes,” and if she wanted her to call 911, to which she said she shook her “no.”
Turner said Shelley Murphy had bruising under one eye and on her arm, while her wife had bruising under both eyes and a swollen area on her head. He said when he asked about the head wound, Shelley Murphy told him it had occurred weeks ago.