Jedidiah Murphy Wiki – Jedidiah Murphy Biography
Jedidiah Murphy, the Jewish man on death row in Texas whose fight to avoid the death penalty won support from prominent Jewish activists, has been executed.
Murphy, 48, was sentenced to death for fatally shooting Bertie Lee Cunningham, 80, in Dallas County in 2000 during a carjacking. “To the victim’s family I want to say that I sincerely apologize for everything I did. I hope this allows you to conclude,” Murphy said in his final statement, before reciting a psalm praising God. The execution, by lethal injection, took place late Tuesday after a series of last-minute maneuvers aimed at saving Murphy. A federal district court had granted him a stay of execution on Friday, but the Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal to overturn the stay. On Tuesday, his lawyers filed another request for a stay, arguing that the drugs he was going to be injected with were damaged by smoke and extreme heat during a recent fire at a state prison, but that request was denied. A last-minute petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied. “I wish I could say it was a shock,” Cantor Michael Zoosman, a former prison chaplain who leads L’Chaim, a Jewish anti-death penalty group, said during a vigil held on Zoom during the final hours of Murphy and then until his execution, just minutes before his death sentence expired. The execution took place on World Day Against the Death Penalty, when advocates present their case against capital punishment.
Jedidiah Murphy was 48 years old.
During the vigil, Zoosman sang “Oseh Shalom” and Psalm 23 from his sukkah and relayed that Murphy, whom he said had become a dear friend and pen pal, had expressed in his final communication sadness over the murderous attack of the anti-Israel Hamas terrorist group that killed more than 1,200 since Saturday. May there be peace, may we see a day without more killings,” Zoosman said. “Amen.” Murphy’s case had mobilized Jewish opponents of the death penalty, including Zoosman; Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor emeritus and political commentator; and Rabbi Dovid Goldstein, a Chabad rabbi in Houston who has advocated for Murphy for years. On Monday, Goldstein, who had guided Murphy in a bar mitzvah ceremony in 2016, accompanied Murphy as he prayed with tefillin for the last time. As a child, Murphy was abused by his biological father and his adoptive father, and abandoned his biological mother, who was Jewish, according to the Forward. The year before committing the murder, Murphy had sought mental health care and was diagnosed with dissociative mental identity disorder, major depression and alcohol dependence, the Texas Observer reported. Although he confessed to the crime, he was high on cocaine and says he does not remember it.
“Three years ago I cried out to Hashem and submitted to His authority and my mind was completely restored,” Murphy wrote in an email from prison to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last month. “That is a miracle and do I have faith then? Absolutely, because I’ve beaten the odds time and time again and I know it’s for a reason I don’t fully understand. Being Jewish brought me a sense of community and I have been blessed with rabbis who help someone who didn’t deserve it.” In a message Murphy sent to Zoosman earlier this week, Murphy said the uncertainty over his fate was difficult to handle, but it was even more challenging for his family. “We have seen it many times when we are in a place like this, the day before, there is a suspension in place and the execution is still carried out,” Zoosman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Because of that uncertainty, last week Zoosman sent Murphy a copy of the vidui, a traditional Jewish confessional prayer recited before death. “I’ve done it many times for people as a hospital and hospice chaplain,” Zoosman explained. “But it also applies here, if in fact he is going to be executed, then this is the prayer that our tradition offers for someone who is about to face death.”