by Sam Levin
The trial has officially begun for Elex Murphy, the so-called "knockout king," accused of fatally beating to death Dutchtown resident Hoang Nguyen in the random, brutal attack that we explored in-depth in our 2011 cover story.
Yesterday, prosecutors began laying out the case against the now twenty-year-old man whose story brought to light the violent teen ritual of sucker-punching random pedestrians -- for fun.
With the jury selected and trial under way, we thought we'd take a look back at the accusations -- and Murphy's alleged confession.
See also: - Knockout King: Kids call it a game. Academics call it a bogus trend. Cops call it murder. - Details of Alleged "Knockout King" Elex Murphy's Confession - Judge KO's Prosecutor's Attempt to Seize RFT Notes in Knockout King Case
Below, you'll find a copy of Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce's complaint against Murphy and the official probable cause statement of police, which has details on Murphy's reported confession, which he has disputed.
Murphy is facing several charges, including first-degree murder.
The prosecuting statement summarizes the incident on April 16, 2011, when Yen Nguyen and Hoang Nguyen were walking down an alley on Spring Avenue on their way home from the supermarket at around 10:30 a.m.:
They were approached by four individuals in the alley. The defendant [Murphy] approached them, grabbed her husband's jacket in the front and punched him in the head. As a result of that punch, Hoang Nguyen immediately fell to the ground, striking his head on the pavement. A second male then went to Hoang Nguyen and began kicking him in the abdomen which caused rib fractures. The defendant then walked to Yen Nguyen and punched her in the right eye.
Of note, prosecutors say that Murphy "made a statement which placed him at the scene and gave information that this attack was a byproduct of the 'knock out' game which involved unprovoked attacks against innocent bystanders."
As we noted in our print feature at the time, the husband and wife were taking a shortcut home.
Contacted after the incident by phone in jail, Murphy told us he did not confess to anything. From our original story:
Murphy now denies having said anything of the sort. "That's a bullshit-ass lie," he says by phone from the City Justice Center, where he's detained without bond on four charges, including first-degree murder. "I kept telling them, 'How am I going to give you information when I wasn't even there?'"
Murphy says he was asleep when the attack occurred. He denies all knowledge of Knockout King, though he concedes that neighborhood kids in south city frequently spoke of "knocking people out."
He says his interrogators tried to coerce him into making certain statements. "They said, 'All we want you to say is that we were playing this game,'" he asserts, alleging that detectives offered to charge him with the lesser count of second-degree murder if he confessed. "I didn't agree, that's why I'm on murder-first," he reasons.
He does, however, have a criminal history, including unlawful use of a weapon in 2006, larceny and trespassing charges and failing to pay court fines tied to a series of MetroLink violations.
Here's the original statement from prosecutors and police.