In Asheville, North Carolina, a local man has been sentenced to twenty years in prison after being convicted for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in his home during February 2020. This was confirmed by the regional authorities.
William Todd Murell, aged 58, was convicted by a Buncombe County jury on November 13 of first-degree rape and felony assault causing serious bodily harm. Although he was acquitted of a kidnapping charge, Murell is currently facing similar charges in another case dating back to March 2020.
District Attorney Todd Williams acknowledged the dedication of prosecutors Katie Kurdys and Stormy Ellis in this complex and extended trial. Their support for the victim, who courageously testified despite her physical challenges, was crucial in achieving the conviction.
During the trial, the victim recounted the terrifying experience of being provided alcohol and Trazodone by Murell, enduring physical abuse, and repeated sexual assault over a 10-day period in February 2020. Evidence of her injuries was presented in court, including a sexual assault kit conducted by Pardee Hospital staff.
The court saw visual evidence of the victim’s traumatic brain injury, as well as bruises and cigarette burns on her body. A toxicology report also indicated the presence of barbiturates and benzodiazepines in her system at the time of her hospital admission.
At the sentencing, Murell, despite being surprised by the verdict, did not offer an apology or show remorse, according to the district attorney’s office.
The victim, a former police officer and mother of three from Florida, had initially met Murell at a substance abuse group while seeking help for alcoholism. They lived nearby and would often travel to meetings together. The abuse began after she accompanied Murell to his home to watch a movie.
Despite multiple welfare checks by Asheville police at Murell’s home, based on several 911 calls over the 10-day abuse period, no intervention occurred as the victim did not express a wish to leave or seek assistance.
The victim eventually contacted friends and escaped from Murell’s home on February 11. She received medical attention at Pardee Hospital, where she was found to have a critically high blood alcohol level, a severe brain injury, and signs of drug use, along with various physical injuries.
Murell’s defense team filed an appeal on November 21. Additionally, he faces charges in another case from March 2020 involving a different woman who escaped and contacted the authorities.