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Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Stabbings of 3 Homeless Men in Manhattan

LocalMan Sentenced to 25 Years in Stabbings of 3 Homeless Men in Manhattan

A 42-year-old homeless man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Wednesday for stabbing three homeless men in Manhattan, one fatally, in a string of attacks during the summer of 2022.

The man, Trevon Murphy, pleaded guilty in January to one felony count of murder in the second degree and two counts of attempted murder.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, had said that the attacks were committed against the city’s “most vulnerable” community members.

“New Yorkers who face the painful and difficult experience of being unhoused shouldn’t have to simultaneously fear for their safety,” Mr. Bragg said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr. Murphy, who has a history of arrests and has struggled with mental illness, was arrested in July 2022 on charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the three stabbings, which took place over the course of a single week in July. All three men whom Mr. Murphy stabbed had been sleeping outside when the attacks occurred, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Murphy’s lawyer, Kevin Canfield, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

According to police statements at the time of Mr. Murphy’s arrest, he approached a man sleeping on a bench by the Hudson River in the West Village on July 5 and stabbed him in the abdomen. The man later died at Bellevue Hospital, the police said.

On July 9, Mr. Murphy stabbed another man who had been sleeping on a bench on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 49th Street in Midtown, prosecutors said in a news release announcing Mr. Murphy’s guilty plea in January. Mr. Murphy stared at the man for about 20 minutes from a nearby bench before attacking him, prosecutors said.

In a third incident on July 11, Mr. Murphy stabbed a man who had been sleeping at a basketball court on East 96th Street on the Upper East Side, prosecutors said.

The two men attacked on July 9 and July 11 survived, according to the police.

Mr. Murphy was arraigned in August 2022 and indicted on charges connected to two of the stabbings, including the fatal one. The charges were later updated to reflect the third stabbing.

A cousin of Mr. Murphy’s, Tameka Wilkerson of Knoxville, Tenn., said after the attacks that Mr. Murphy had been struggling with mental health problems for years and sometimes heard voices.

A few months before the stabbings, Mr. Murphy was placed in a general homeless shelter in Queens despite a history of paranoia and delusions, according to records and previous interviews by The New York Times.

Homeless people suffering from severe mental illness have been charged in a series of high-profile attacks in New York City in the past five years, though such attacks are relatively rare. The incidents have shined a light on a broken system of emergency psychiatric care for homeless people, in which hospitals repeatedly discharge patients without stabilizing them.

In a 2023 Times investigation, reporters scrutinized acts of violence carried out in recent years by people who were homeless and mentally ill. Reporters identified 94 instances in the past decade in which breakdowns of the city’s social safety net preceded the violence.

One in four severely mentally ill people in the shelter system had not been placed in a mental health shelter, according to a 2022 audit by the state comptroller. Some of those who were placed in less intensive shelters went on to kill themselves or others, The Times investigation found.

The investigation lists Mr. Murphy as one such case.

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