He was gang member who robbed several restaurants, terrorized a 7-year-old boy at his own birthday party… and got into a shootout with police.
So, why is Christopher Murray out on parole?
That’s the question his victims, prosecutors, and News 3 are asking.
In 1993, Christopher Murray was sentenced to 12 life terms plus 115 years in prison. But less than 25 years later, November 28, 2018, he’s back on the streets.
That’s despite the objections of the family of one of his victims, the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, and at least one officer who knows just how dangerous Murray can be.
“We were fortunate we were not burying one of our three officers that night,” explained Everett Ragan.
That’s how current CNT Director and former Savannah Police Major Everett Ragan remembers the night in 1993 when Christopher Murray robbed a Pizza Hut on Abercorn street. He stole $1200 including $15 from a 7 year old’s birthday party. Then the Jivens’ gang member left his victims in a cooler, walked out and opened fire on some of his officers with Savannah Police.
“When this individual came out they told him to drop his weapon, he immediately opened fire with an AK 47,” said Ragan. “Christopher Murray had no regard for public safety. He was a serial armed robber and those are the worst kind. Whenever they are put in that situation someone will end up getting shot or injured, and they will not hesitate to do it.”
“They (Savannah Police officers) were able to apprehend this individual. Not because he wanted to give up, not because he wanted to surrender, not because he had second thoughts, because he had a malfunction and they were able to get ahold of him.”
Murray was caught, convicted and sentenced to 12 life terms plus 115 years behind bars.
“His sentence was a fair and just sentence and by god one that he should serve,” said Ragan.
But now, less than 25 years later, he was granted parole. This after being denied 5 times, including back in August. And despite the objections of some of his victims and the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office.
In that letter, Prosecutors detail Murray’s admission he intended to have killed a “cop” and only failed to do so because his gun jammed. Also that “Ricky”, referencing Ricky Jivens, would have been proud.
The other issues brought out were the four felony offenses while behind bars he was accused of, two of which convicted on, including possession of a weapon.
Ragan says if the parole system isn’t “broken”, it definitely needs to be “tweaked”.
“They don’t deal with the victims, they don’t deal with talking to the officers that were involved that night and they don’t deal with the force that was used against the officers that night. hopefully there will be in their considerations. but there’s no evidence they would consider the fact this man tried to kill 3 police officers along with the robberies and terror he put in their lives. he should stay in jail.’
“Is Savannah going to be less safe now?”
“Anywhere he puts his head down at night is going to be less safe.” expressed Ragan.
We asked the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to explain why Christopher Murray would be released from prison.
Part of their response was quote…
“The board decided to proceed with its previous decision to grant parole after reviewing all case information including information received since cancelling a release date earlier this year.” according to Steve Hayes, Director of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole.
Attached to their decision, the Board also forbid Murray from contacting his victims, made him register as a sex offender, wear an electronic monitor, and banished him from Chatham County.
When asked for more specific details, Steve Hayes added the board reviewed all available information.. including Murray’s prison behavioral record.
In addition the board members take into account the entire prison record (25 years in this case) including the many program completions an offender has. Behavioral change is considered along with any violations. The lack of violations in years leading up to parole is considered as is violations and circumstances of those that may have occurred years ago; 5, 7, 10 years ago for example. The board wants to see a progression and rehabilitation through program completions and elimination of misconduct. Community views, victim’s information and that from the DA is all included and considered
But what he could not give any specifics on was how much victim’s and prosecutors statements, or any other forms of evidence come into play in the board’s decision.
Only adding that the Board has the discretion to determine who is paroled and when.