The proof that the witnesses against him were not human was obvious to Michael Craig Murdoch during his 2010 trial in Orange County Superior Court for felony assault with a deadly weapon (a beer bottle) and battery causing serious bodily injury.
In court, Murdoch, 50, represented himself and had just one question: Could the witnesses in the case wiggle their shoulder blades? After one witness did so, Murdoch concluded he hadn't and then blurted out that he can't be guilty because the witnesses, one of whom was the victim, are not human.
Superior Court Judge James Marion didn't stop the trial at that point, and Murdoch went on to speculate that the witnesses were, in fact, from Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? Because, he said, angels have shoulder blades; demons don't.
That's not the strangest thing Murdoch ever said, however. In 2020, he took a torch to his own skin because he thought aliens were crawling out of his flesh and had planted tentacles in his body. He suffered serious burns and was hospitalized.
A jury in the assault case convicted Murdoch in rapid fashion. After about 20 minutes of deliberations, Judge Marion sentenced him to three years in a California prison.
This week a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered the conviction. The appellate justices determined that Marion, a well-respect veteran judge, should have stopped the trial as soon Murdoch declared the witnesses were nonhumans, and, as a result, scheduled a competency hearing.
"The existence of nonhumans in human bodies is ... not a rationale defense," wrote Justice Eileen Moore on behalf of justices William Bedsworth and Richard Aronson.
According to Moore, Murdoch was not "feigning insanity." He really is nuts.
The justices reversed the conviction.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly