A Breakthrough Arrest Made in Cold Case Drive-By Shooting That Shook Compton 22 Years Ago | Latest News and Updates

2023-11-03 21:13:55

An arrest was announced Friday in a drive-by shooting 22 years ago in Compton that killed a 24-year-old man and his 2-year-old daughter during a night of violence in southern Los Angeles County.

The suspect arrested Monday in Compton was identified by sheriff’s officials 47-year-old Jahon Smith. Details regarding what led to the arrest were not immediately disclosed, although investigators said at a news conference earlier this year that new DNA evidence provided them with reason to believe they were getting closer to a break in the case.

Smith was charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder. Arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 29.

The family of Stephen Murphy and daughter Kali were at Friday’s news conference when the arrests were announced. Murphy, who worked at Los Angeles International Airport, and Kali were shot Aug. 8, 2001 in the 13100 block of Willowbrook Avenue.

They were visiting the girl’s grandmother, who spoke at the news conference.

She thanked investigators and expressed gratitude that she lived to see an arrest in her son’s murder.

“We thank them for seeing Steve and Kali for who they were. Two innocent victims who were tragically gunned down and taken away from us,” Phyllis Murphy said.

Stephen Murphy was getting ready to put his daughter in the back seat of his car when someone in another car opened fire, authorities said. Murphy tried to run into the house with his daughter in his arms, but he was shot on the front porch. The girl was struck in the head with a bullet and died at a hospital.

“He was still holding his little girl when he died,” Joseph “Joby” Matthews, Murphy’s uncle. told the Los Angeles Times in August 2001.

Murphy and his daughter were in the wrong place at the wrong time, investigators said at a September news conference to renew interest in the case.

During that news conference, authorities said the shooting was one in a series that occurred over the course of two nights as the result of an apparently ongoing gang war at the time. He said the crime spree began the previous night, Aug. 7, 2001, when 22-year-old Richard Lawrence was fatally shot in the 2000 block of North Grape Avenue in Compton.

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Witnesses provided a basic description of two male attackers in the crime, and sheriff’s officials released artist renderings in hopes of generating tips from the public. The attackers were driving a gray Chevrolet Caprice.

The following night, five separate drive-by shootings occurred in what were believed to be retaliation for the killing of Lawrence.

The shootings began in the 13300 block of Largo Avenue, where a victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to the head and shoulder. A short time later, a non-injury shooting occurred in the 2300 block of Lucien Street.

Murphy and his daughter were killed in the third shooting of the night.

Another shooting occurred a short time later in the 2000 block of West 131st Street, where a 15-year-old boy suffered a graze wound to the head. After that, a sheriff’s deputy came under fire, but was not struck, in the 1900 block of North Anzac Avenue.

The gold Oldsmobile Cutlass the shooters were driving was later seized by deputies, but no arrests were made at the time.

In September, investigators said that modern DNA testing was being done on property found inside the car, and it was expected to be completed soon.

Relatives of Stephen and Kali Murphy attended the September news conference to also urge anyone with information to come forward.

“Steven was an awesome son, a loving father, a loving son, a loving brother,” one of them told reporters. “Never had any trouble. He always saw the good in everyone. He was not affiliated with any gang members. He worked hard every day. He was a good employee (at Los Angeles International Airport).

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