William H. Murphy Jr., a prominent Baltimore attorney who stepped down 10 years ago from a Circuit Court judgeship to run for mayor, has been charged with beating his wife Monday morning at their Mount Vernon rowhouse, police and prosecutors said.
Mr. Murphy, 50, was charged Monday in a criminal summons with one count of battery for allegedly striking his 29-year-old wife, Kimberly Murphy, in the face, causing her eye to swell and her nose to bleed, police said.
Mr. Murphy, noting that his wife was not the person who called police, said last night that he was "outraged" at what he described as an excessive police response to an incident of alleged domestic violence. He said "countless" officers responded to the complaint.
"I'm not a fool," he said. "I know why the police are doing this to me. I wonder whether it has something to do with the $1.5 million verdict I got in a police brutality case and my traditional willingness to battle the police."
Mr. Murphy won a $1.5 million civil verdict this year against TC Baltimore police officer who shot a man being arrested on a loitering charge.
The verdict was described as the largest civil judgment ever against a city police officer.
His wife, visited at her home yesterday afternoon, bore no visible signs of abuse. She said in a statement last night that the police report contained "numerous inaccuracies, false statements and outright lies."
During the Monday incident, in which police were called to the house by a relative, Mr. Murphy allegedly prevented officers from entering to check on his wife and at one point forced her back inside when she went out to talk to police, according to a police report.
'I am offended'
Mrs. Murphy told officers at the time that "she was in need of police assistance, but feared for her safety if she pursued [assistance]," the report said.
In her statement last night, Mrs. Murphy said, "I can see that I am being used to accomplish someone else's agenda. In this case, I did not call the police and told the police that I was not interested in pursuing this matter, and that I did not need or want their assistance. I am offended as a woman that I'm not given the right to choose what's best for me, my husband and my family.
"I deeply love, respect and care for my husband and family. For this reason, I wish to keep what happened between my husband and me private."
She and her husband declined to provide accounts of what happened Monday morning, citing their desire for privacy.
Mrs. Murphy said she believed the police were attempting to "manipulate the situation" in an attempt to "destroy my husband's reputation and career, and to put me and my family through hell just to get at him."
Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms said an investigation of the alleged assault has begun and that "at a minimum, a summons has been issued."
Police said the summons hadn't been served on Mr. Murphy as of last night.
A criminal summons charges someone with a crime but does not require police to arrest the person. The summons ordered Mr. Murphy to appear in Eastside District Court at 2 p.m. Aug. 20.
Battery is a common law offense and carries a possible fine and jail term to be determined by a judge.
Mr. Murphy, a criminal defense attorney noted for his aggressive and flamboyant tactics before and after he became a judge, was elected to the Baltimore City Circuit Court in 1980. He left the bench three years later to challenge incumbent William Donald Schaefer for mayor, losing by a 3-1 margin.
Police were called to Mr. Murphy's home in the 1000 block of N. Calvert St. about 9:50 a.m. Monday for a report of an assault and were met there by Mrs. Murphy's sister, who said Mrs. Murphy was on the second floor and in need of medical attention, a police report said.
Mr. Murphy spoke with the investigating officer but refused to allow him into the house, the report said.
"He [Mr. Murphy] stated the victim was alright. Numerous requests were made by police and paramedics . . . to see the victim, but Mr. Murphy would not allow any emergency personnel inside," the report said.
Mrs. Murphy's brother, Lyle G. Roberts III, was allowed inside and returned to tell police that his sister had been "badly beaten by [Mr. Murphy] and was bleeding," the report said. He asked police to go inside, but Mr. Murphy again refused to allow them in, the report said.
After about 20 minutes, Mrs. Murphy "came to the front door with a swollen nose that was pushed slightly to one side as if it were broken," the report said.
She also had "visible bruises and swollen spots" on her face and around her right eye, which was starting to blacken, according to the report.
Mrs. Murphy appeared to be frightened while talking to police, the report said.
Mr. Murphy, when he realized she was talking with the police, "forced her back inside and locked the door," the report said.
She was taken by family members to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment.
'A family problem'
Mr. Roberts declined to discuss what happened in the house yesterday.
"They had a little fight," he said of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy. "It's no big deal. It's a family decision not to give any information out.
"That's a family problem. It should stay that way. Billy has a fight with his wife, everyone wants it on the front page."
A police officer at the scene said the incident was not handled in a normal manner, since officers weren't authorized to go inside and check on Mrs. Murphy, but police defended their actions.
Maj. Charles M. Dickens said there did not appear to be any need for aggressive police action, since family members were at the house and the situation seemed "to have been defused."
"I told them [the officers] to continue the investigation and hook her up with domestic violence people and see if a [restraining order] might be necessary," Major Dickens said. "It was a hard decision that had to be made. She was not in danger [because family members were there at the time], and she said she wanted to keep it all private."
Jann Jackson, associate director of the House of Ruth, which runs a shelter and advocacy services for battered women, said, "Police have the power to make an arrest on site" but are not required to do so.
She said that according to a recent study, police make arrests on the site in 4 percent to 5 percent of calls related to domestic violence.