Man gets 7 years for near-fatal Boardman assault


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Darlene Matthews asked Judge John M. Durkin to impose the maximum sentence on Brian Murray because when he attacked her husband, Gabriel, in 2016 at a Boardman home-improvement store, Murray imposed a life sentence on their family.

“You deserve the same mercy you gave my husband as he lie seizing on the ground,” Matthews said. “You gave him none.”

Murray assaulted Gabriel Matthews because of an argument over $500. Murray claimed he was owed the money for work, but the husband claimed Murray didn’t complete the job.

He suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain that doctors testified would leave him with permanent injuries, including chronic pain and cognitive issues.

Death has resulted from similar injuries, a doctor testified.

Judge Durkin imposed a seven-year prison sentence Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

That’s one year shy of the maximum eight years for felonious assault and three years beyond the four-year sentence Murray rejected in a plea agreement offered by prosecutors because he didn’t want to be away from his 16-year-old son.

Assistant County Prosecutor Kevin Trapp told the judge he wanted a harsher sentence because of the evidence that arose at trial and the decisiveness with which the jury made its decision.

The jury, who viewed surveillance footage of the assault, returned a guilty verdict Wednesday after about 10 minutes of deliberation.

Trapp emphasized the public nature of the assault.

“A lot of other people could have been hurt,” Trapp said. “Children could have been hurt. Children could have seen this.”

He also told the judge that society requires protection from Murray.

“You can’t haul off and beat someone half to death because you’re unhappy with them,” he said.

Murray, who had been advised by his attorney to stand silent because he intends to appeal his verdict, told the judge he took full responsibility for his actions.

“I hate that this incident ever took place,” Murray said.

Judge Durkin told Murray it was obvious the jury didn’t believe he acted in self-defense, and he didn’t, either.

“Something clearly snapped that day,” the judge said. “You continued hitting him [when] on the video he was clearly defenseless.”

Just before imposing the seven-year sentence, he cited advice he received in the past.

“We need to treat those people we are mad at and punish those people we are afraid of,” Judge Durkin said.

His sentence implied that Murray falls into the latter category.

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