The Get with Morgan Fogarty: Andrew Murray
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Andrew Murray has been the District Attorney for more than three years and counting. His predecessor, Peter Gilchrist, held the position for 36 years. Murray inherited a backlog of murder cases, waiting to be taken to trial; 162, to be exact. Murray's current homicide case inventory is about 100. "I hope to be below 100 by the end of this year," Murray tells WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty.
In March, Murray's office convinced a jury that Justin Hurd was guilty of a gruesome 2008 triple murder and arson. One of the victims was an 18-year-old girl. Hurd will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The trial is over, but not necessarily the danger. Murray says, "That was a horrific case with a gang relation to it." He goes on to say, "We increased security, we had veiled threats that the DAs lives were in danger." And he says, "It's a job that the safety and security of not only my DAs but their families are at risk."
A point heavily underscored by the recent kidnapping of a Wake County Assistant DA's father, orchestrated by a convicted felon from his prison cell, two years after his trial. "Sometimes the public doesn't always realize we deal with evil every day. Every day," says Murray.
Murray's no-nonsense approach to crime is earning him public support. He says, "I have no opposition, which is great, and I'd like to think it's because people think we're doing a good job." Criminals are taking notice, too. Murray says, "A lot of the time we listen to tape. I probably shouldn't disclose that, but everybody in the world knows that we listen to tape of calls, and it's a common theme that this DA doesn't mess with habitual (offenders), and that's a great reputation."
Murray is the first to admit that when he was elected DA, there was a perception in Charlotte that the office just wasn't getting the job done. His predecessor Gilchrist tried an average of 8.6 murder cases a year. Last year, Murray tried 14. He's on track to try 20 this year.
Murray also created a five-member team of assistant District Attorneys to specifically tackle domestic violence cases. He's also ordered the DA website beefed up. Visitors can sign up for weekly email alerts that tell them how many cases the office won, lost or pleaded. Murray says, "I want the public to know this is their office, I want them to know what we're doing, and we're working hard for them and their safety and their families."
The District Attorney's office has been criticized over the years for its reliance on paper and lack of technology. Murray says there's a computer system that now allows public defenders across the state to access case information. They're going to roll out the system to private attorneys, too.