Eller and Murphy are charged with malice murder, felony murder, concealing the death of another and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the March 17, 2013 death of Danny Lamar Gravley. Gravley was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head in the back of his truck along Red Top Mountain Road.
Brian Bradley, Gravley’s nephew, was the only witness to take the stand in Judge Suzanne Smith’s courtroom about 4:15 p.m.
Bradley testified he had attended a funeral March 17 and gone later to the home Gravley shared with Eller and Murphy, who are siblings. He testified that Murphy was intoxicated and Gravley had consumed enough to have alcohol on his breath but was not acting intoxicated.
Eller’s defense attorney Lora Alsher said during her opening statement that Gravley had been shot during a struggle after he pointed a gun at Murphy.
“That night [Eller] chose to save his sister’s live,” Alsher said. “… Eventually you’ll hear that Mr. Gravley got so angry with [Murphy], he bit her. Miss Murphy ended up getting away from him that time and eventually they ended up arguing agin. They were yelling at each other. He was cursing at her again, so much so that Mr. Eller … in his room, he came in and he wanted to see what was going on. But this was not a time where Mr. Gravley bit her, slapped her or bit her. This time was different because this time Mr. Gravley had a gun in his hand and that gun was pointed directly at Miss Murphy. This is the time where Mr. Eller has to make that choice. He either has to see his sister get shot or he has to try to gain control of the gun. And that’s what he attempted to do. He tried to grab the gun away from Mr. Gravley, and you’ll hear that that gun was Mr. Gravley’s. The three of them at that point get into a struggle and a tense struggle so bad that Mr. Eller ends up breaking his ankle. That’s when the gun goes off, killing Danny Gravley.
“After that, Mr. Eller and Miss Murphy were in shock. They panicked. They definitely made some bad choices after that.”
Eller and Murphy later set fire to the shower curtain and sheets after removing the body and driving it to the exit in Emerson.
The two turned themselves in to the authorities March 19.
Court resumes in Smith’s Courtroom A today at 9 a.m.