A fugitive from Louisiana has been convicted of murder in the death of a man found in an Englewood pond.
An Arapahoe County District Court jury found Mikhail Anthony Purpera, 31, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Patrick Murphy, who was 33 years old.
“Human life is meaningless to this cold-blooded and wanton killer,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “Laws that prohibit this felon from possessing firearms are meaningless to this multiple murderer. Our community, the planet, is better off with this guy behind bars forever. This is why we build prisons.”
Purpera left Louisiana in August 2016 after police in the town of Gonzales sought to arrest him there on two counts of attempted murder.
On Nov. 12, 2016, Englewood police officers arrested Purpera on suspicion of shoplifting. In his possession at the time of his arrest was a loaded .40 caliber handgun.
Tests on the handgun linked it to the shooting death of Wayland Busby, a 54-year-old transient found dead Nov. 5, 2016, in a tent where he was living along the South Platte River in Denver.
The gun also matched spent casings from the scene of the shooting in Louisiana.
When he was arrested, Purpera also had in his possession a health care card and cell phone belonging to Patrick Murphy.
Murphy’s family reported he disappeared in the early morning hours of Nov. 12.
In interviewing witnesses in the Busby death in Denver, detectives learned Purpera had told a witness he killed a man near a pond in Englewood at the northwest corner of South Broadway and U.S. 285.
That area was searched in November, but the pond was iced over and nothing was found.
In February 2017, the pond was drained to clear sediment. As the water level fell, a passerby was able to see a body and reported it to Englewood police. The coroner identified the body as that of Patrick Murphy. He had been shot in the back of the head.
A witness told police Purpera said he killed Busby to steal marijuana from him. Purpera told the witness he killed Murphy a week later because he was “getting a rush off it.”
“This defendant left a trail of victims from Louisiana to Colorado. Using a gun he should never have had because he’s a convicted felon, he brutally killed Patrick Murphy. I’m incredibly grateful to the brave witnesses who came forward and for the jury’s verdict, bringing some measure of justice to Patrick’s family,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney John Kellner, who prosecuted the case.
“Law enforcement officers, scientific experts and brave witnesses from across county and state lines banded together in the quest for justice. The slayings of Patrick Murphy and Wayland Busby were not the first times the defendant pulled a trigger, nor would they have been the last,” said Deputy District attorney Michael Mauro, who prosecuted the case with Kellner. “All who took part in the apprehension, investigation, and prosecution of the defendant should be commended for their steadfast work.”
A Denver jury convicted Purpera in August 2018 of first-degree felony murder in the death of Busby. Purpera was sentenced in November to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The Arapahoe jury convicted Purpera of first-degree felony murder; first degree murder extreme indifference; aggravated robbery; possession of a weapon by a previous offender; possession of a controlled substance; obstructing a police officer; resisting arrest and theft.
Sentencing is set for April 23. The statutorily mandated sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison without possibility of parole.