Mikhail Anthony Purpera
A fugitive from Louisiana has been convicted of murder in the death of a man found in an Englewood pond.
An Arapahoe County District Court jury found Mikhail Anthony Purpera, 31, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Patrick Murphy, who was 33 years old.
Purpera left Louisiana in August 2016 after police in the town of Gonzales sought to arrest him on two counts of attempted murder.
On Nov. 12, 2016, Englewood police officers arrested Purpera on suspicion of shoplifting. In his possession at the time of his arrest was a loaded .40-caliber handgun.
Tests on the handgun linked it to the shooting death of Wayland Busby, a 54-year-old transient found dead Nov. 5, 2016, in a tent where he was living along the South Platte River in Denver.
The gun also matched spent casings from the scene of the shooting in Louisiana.
When he was arrested, Purpera also had in his possession a health care card and cellphone belonging to Patrick Murphy.
Murphy’s family reported he disappeared in the early morning hours of Nov. 12.
In interviewing witnesses in the Busby death in Denver, detectives learned Purpera had told a witness he killed a man near a pond in Englewood at the Northwest corner of South Broadway and U.S. 285.
That area was searched in November, but the pond was iced-over, and nothing was found.
In February 2017, the pond was drained to clear sediment. As the water level fell, a passerby was able to see a body and reported it to Englewood police. The coroner identified the body as that of Patrick Murphy. He had been shot in the back of the head.
A Denver jury convicted Purpera in August 2018 of first-degree felony murder in the death of Busby. Purpera was sentenced in November to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The Arapahoe County jury convicted Purpera of first-degree felony murder, first degree murder extreme indifference, aggravated robbery, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, possession of a controlled substance, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest and theft.
Sentencing is set for April 23. The statutorily mandated sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison without possibility of parole.
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