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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Bobbie Jo Clary pleaded guilty to murder Friday, nearly four months after a judge ruled her same-sex spouse would have to testify against Clary in her February trial, even though state law exempts spouses from being compelled to testify against each other.
The Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office did not know if Judge Susan Schultz Gibson's ruling, the first of its kind in Kentucky, played a role in the guilty plea and Clary's attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
After pleading guilty to murder, robbery and tampering with physical evidence, Clary was sentenced to 40 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in less than 20 years.
Clary answered Gibson's questions politely and quietly, making no other statements.
Previously, Clary had claimed self-defense in the Oct. 29, 2011, slaying of George Murphy in his Portland home, saying she was being raped and fought back by hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Stacy Grieve said there was no evidence to support that claim.
And Murphy's brother, John Murphy, told Judge Gibson he wanted to clear his brother's name and Clary should apologize. Gibson said she could not compel Clary to apologize.
At the end of the hearing, a woman sitting with Clary's family told her she loved her and said, "He didn't get away with it, OK?"
The family declined to comment after the hearing.
Outside the courtroom, John Murphy reiterated that his brother did not attack Clary.
"I was just trying to get an apology and clear my brother's name," he said.
And Grieve told reporters, "I truly feel today justice was served."
Prosecutors had argued Geneva Case heard Clary admit to killing George Murphy and saw her clean blood out of his van and abandon it in Southern Indiana.
They argued Case must testify about those facts, even though Case and Clary entered into a same-sex civil union in Vermont in 2004 because Kentucky doesn't recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.
Case had told the prosecution she would not testify, invoking the "Husband-Wife" privilege under state law, where a spouse can refuse to testify as to events occurring after the date of their marriage, according to court records.
Gibson ruled in September that in 2004, the Kentucky General Assembly, "perhaps anticipating that public opinion would one day shift in Kentucky as it has in other states," put the issue of same-sex marriage on the ballot and voters amended the state constitution to say that "only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage."
Also, Gibson wrote that it is not up to her to decide "whether these Kentucky laws are constitutionally repugnant," though she noted that "the acceptance of same-sex marriage is growing and that an increasing number of citizens of this country and this state believe that extension of basic rights taken for granted by heterosexual couples to same-sex couples will not result in the destruction of civilization, but in the enrichment of it."
The case was the first legal test in the state over forcing same-sex partners to testify against each other.
It did not appear that Case was in the courtroom for the guilty plea and sentencing Friday.
Thursday, February 27 2014 4:33 PM EST2014-02-27 21:33:08 GMT
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