64ºF

Priest's killer: I could have gotten away with murder if I'd kept my mouth shut

Steven Murray admits he shot and killed Father Rene Robert in Georgia

Image video from 90-minute interrogation of Steven Murray after his arrest in Burke County, Georgia
Image video from 90-minute interrogation of Steven Murray after his arrest in Burke County, Georgia

WAYNESBORO, Ga. – The 30-year-old man serving a life sentence for killing a 71-year-old St. Augustine priest who had tried to help him get his life back on track told detectives after his arrest in April 2016 that he "lost my stuff," adding, "I shot him."

Surveillance video of his initial interview with Jacksonville Sheriff's Office investigators obtained by News4Jax, Steven Murray confessed that he kidnapped and murdered Father Rene Robert before dumping his body off Highway 56 in North Georgia. He was quiet and matter-of-fact in describing that happened.

As he drove Robert's car north with the priest in the truck, Murray said Robert called out to him.

"I'm riding, you know, and Father Rene, he's talking to me ... telling me, 'You know you're never going to get away with this, you know.'  And I had no intention of hurting him," Murray told the detectives.

Murray described what happened when he finally stopped in a remote area near the Georgia-South Carolina border to let Robert out of the trunk to use the bathroom.

"I pulled over in that spot where ya'll ...  got him from, you know, and ... I backed up right there and he said he had to use the bathroom, you know. So I let him out to use the bathroom ... and I lost my stuff, you know. I shot him."

According to the police report, he shot the priest in the face.

Murray, who had been in and out of prison since he was 11 years old, said that not being able to see his kids really took a toll on him, making him reckless.

"I could have gotten away with the murder if I had kept my mouth shut," Murray said.

Murray even told the detectives how and why he should pay for his crime.

"Trying to make sense of this, you know. But you can't, you know. The damage is done, and ...  I just really hope y'all f**** kill me for it."

photo

Prosecutors had vowed to seek the death penalty despite Robert's adamant opposition to execution. In a 1995 declaration of life he signed, Robert asked that if he was ever murdered, that his killer would not receive the death penalty.

Remembering Father Rene Robert in photos

Last fall, Murray pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder in Burke County, Georgia. During that hearing, Murray apologized to Robert's family.

Because Murray pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to life in prison.


About the Author: