Friday, March 13, 2015

Moby Grape – "Murder In My Heart For The Judge" (1968)

I've got murder in my heart for the judge
That bad old judge wouldn't budge

I get a weekly e-mail from the American Bar Association Journal, which I usually delete without reading.  But for some reason, I took a look at the most recent one I received.

Virtually every one of the articles that e-mail linked to was interesting.  In the next few 2 or 3 lines posts, I'll summarize the most intriguing of those articles.  (Or maybe not.  I might change my mind.)

Today is Friday the 13th, which is an appropriate day to write about William Ray Phillips of Waco, Texas.  (If Mr. Phillips didn't have bad luck, he wouldn't have no luck at all.)  Here's the headline to the ABA Journal article about Philips, which pretty much says it all:

Angry at 10-year prison term, offender tries to arrange to kill judge and gets another 80 years

According to the article, the 64-year-old Phillips was sentenced to that 10-year prison term for failing to register as a sex offender.

William Ray Phillips
Phillips argued that the registration requirement didn't apply to his 2007 conviction for child abuse, which resulted in a 99-year prison term.  (His daughter had testified that Phillips had abused her from the time she was 18 months old until she was seven years old, and also took many lewd photographs of her.)  But his conviction was overturned by a Texas appeals court, which held that the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.  

However, Texas district judge Matt Johnson ruled that the sex-offender registration requirement still applied because Phillips had also been convicted of breaking a federal child-pornography law.

After he was sentenced, Phillips offered a hit man $30,000 to off Judge Johnson.  The only problem was that the hit man was actually an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agent.

That was mistake #1.  Mistake #2 came when Phillips decided to go to trial instead of accepting a plea bargain  that called for a 30-year prison term for the solicitation of murder charge.  (He would have been eligible for parole after 15 years.)

Apparently Texas juries are not at all sympathetic to guys who sexually abuse their young daughters and try to arrange for the assassination of judges.  After deliberating less than an hour, the jury found Phillips guilty.  He was subsequently sentenced to 80 years in prison.  (He can seek parole in 30 years – when he'll be 94 years old.)

The Wow album cover
"Murder In My Heart For The Judge," which was written by Moby Grape drummer Don Stevenson, was released in 1968 on the group's Wow album.

Writer Jeff Tamarkin summed up Moby Grape's career in these words:

The Grape's saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco.  Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less."

Here's "Murder In My Heart For The Judge":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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