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Shiffletts File Suit

Kevin Shifflett’s parents have filed a suit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, alleging that the state’s negligence caused Kevin’s death.

The wrongful death and civil rights suit was filed in federal court in Alexandria last week, days before the second anniversary of Kevin’s murder. The eight-year-old was playing in the Del Ray yard of his great-grandparents on April 19, 2000, when he was stabbed to death. Gregory Murphy has been charged with the murder but was found not competent to stand trial. Murphy is being treated at the Central State Hospital, with the hope that he can be restored to competency and eventually stand trial for the murder.

The Shiffletts’ suit claims that the state should have been monitoring Murphy more closely. At the time of Kevin’s murder, Murphy was on parole from prison, under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

Also, the suit contends that Murphy’s mental health issues that were known to the Department of Mental Health were left untreated while he was incarcerated. These actions, or lack of action, on the part of the two state agencies, according to the suit, led directly to Kevin’s murder.

Because the suit was filed in federal court in the Eastern District, it is on the “rocket docket” and likely to be fast-tracked unless the state takes some action to delay the matter.

IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CASE, Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney S. Randolph Sengel, has filed a motion asking the court to allow Murphy to be examined by another psychiatrist. “We are in no way questioning the treatment that Mr. Murphy is receiving at Central State Hospital or the competency of the professionals who have examined and are treating him,” Sengel said. “Because of the nature of the case, we would just like the court to allow us to obtain a second opinion.”

Murphy has been receiving antipsychotic medication for the past year and, according to medical reports, has shown some improvement. Doctors say that his delusions have become more ordered. He continues to believe that machines are being used to control his thoughts and behavior but he has shown fewer incidents of aggressive or violent behavior in recent months.

Murphy’s attorneys have filed a motion for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Virginia Supreme Court, stating that the forcible administration of antipsychotic medication is a violation of Murphy’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has not yet responded. Murphy’s attorneys plan to file a motion for expedited review of this matter this week. If the motion is denied, the attorneys will appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.