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Police say man sought to kill judge Suspect figured in dispute over will


A 59-year-old Armistead Gardens resident involved in a bitter battle over his father's estate -- valued in excess of $1 million -- has been charged with soliciting a man to murder the Baltimore County Circuit Court judge who the suspect felt made unfavorable rulings in the case, according to city police.

John T. Klauenberg was arrested Tuesday at his home in the 1000 block of Rodman Way and charged with soliciting to murder and conspiracy to commit murder, police said.

He was being held without bail last night at the Eastern District lockup, police said.

Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr., 48, who was the target of the alleged plot, rejected police protection during the investigation but accepted surveillance of his home, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

"I'm very gratified to Detective [Kevin] Davis [of the city homicide unit] and to the gentleman who came forward with the information," Judge Murphy said. "Here's a guy who put his personal safety in jeopardy to protect a stranger. I'm very gratified by that gentleman."

Police got word of the alleged murder plot about a month ago when an employee of an Armistead Gardens car wash went to police and told them he had been offered money to kill Judge Murphy.

Police said the man told them that the person who solicited him suggested that the judge be shot while going to the University of Baltimore Law School, where he teaches.

After weeks of investigation, city homicide detectives obtained a warrant for Mr. Klauenberg's arrest.

Since the mid-1980s, Mr. Klauenberg and his sister have been warring over their father's estate, court records show.

His sister tried to remove him from the will by alleging that he was responsible for their father's death, according to court records. Judge Murphy denied the request.

In a subsequent motion filed by the sister's lawyer, Judge Murphy ruled that Mr. Klauenberg had used undue influence to get his father to write a second will that left the entire estate of more than $1 million to him, according to court records.

The judge named a private attorney to settle the estate and required Mr. Klauenberg to pay most of the costs of the long legal battle, court records show.

At a hearing about a month ago, Judge Murphy issued an order requiring Mr. Klauenberg to remove his belongings from his father's house in the Kingsville area so that it could be sold as part of the settlement of the estate, according to court records.

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