Woman admits to theft of 2 weapons in Latrobe shooting case
A Latrobe woman pleaded guilty Friday to charges that she stole a gun used by a man last year in a pharmacy robbery and during a 17-hour police standoff and shootout before he was killed.
Westmoreland County prosecutors contend Julian Upholster, 27, put in motion the events that ultimately resulted in the July 18, 2013, standoff and gun battle between Scott M. Murphy and police that left him dead and a state trooper wounded.
“She felt terrible about this entire thing from the very beginning,” said defense attorney Mike Ferguson. “During the standoff, after she left voluntarily, she went back into the residence to attempt to convince Mr. Murphy to surrender. She certainly didn’t want to see anyone get harmed.”
In court on Friday, Upholster pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, conspiracy and firearms offenses. She has been in jail since her arrest.
According to police, Upholster stole a handgun and a rifle from her roommate and gave the weapons to Murphy. Murphy used one of the guns to rob Precision Care Pharmacy in Latrobe of 140 painkillers, police said.
A witness provided a license plate of his getaway car, where Upholster had waited for Murphy. That led police to Murphy’s home on Lloyd Avenue.
Police said Murphy went home and barricaded himself in an upstairs room with a rifle as police arrived.
A standoff lasted 17 hours as police tried to negotiate a surrender that Murphy ignored, even after they shut off power to the home and evacuated neighbors.
Troopers eventually stormed the house as Murphy fired shots from behind a closed door, according to police. One round struck Trooper Brian King’s bulletproof face shield and helmet.
After a brief retreat, troopers again stormed the home. Witnesses reported that as many as 20 shots were fired. Murphy was found dead in the aftermath.
Police tracked down Upholster a day later. She admitted to stealing the guns and giving them to Murphy, police said.
Earlier this year, Upholster claimed in court that her confession was coerced.
Although a pretrial motion to have the confession barred from evidence at her upcoming trial is pending, Upholster pleaded guilty to the charges on Friday.
Judge Debra Pezze said Upholster faces up to 27 years in prison when she is sentenced in about three months but suggested her penalty could fall within a standard range of three to four years behind bars.
Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanigan said victims in the case, including the troopers involved in the standoff, will be asked to testify in Upholster’s sentencing hearing.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].