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Rancher charged with murder for younger brother’s death

A 54-year-old rancher from rural Livermore was charged with murder on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of his younger brother on Saturday night during what authorities said was a dispute over electricity.

Jeffrey Murray was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in connection with the shooting death of 50-year-old Todd Murray at their family’s ranch in the 1000 block of Harman Road in an unincorporated area of Livermore shortly before 10 p.m. on Saturday. The elder Murray is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, and is scheduled to return to court on March 13 to enter a plea.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said the two brothers are members of a well-known ranching family in rural Livermore and they got into “a family dispute that turned into gun violence.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Kurtis Imperial wrote in a probable cause declaration that Jeffrey Murray called dispatchers on Saturday night to tell them he had shot his brother with a 12-gauge shotgun and he believed his brother had “expired.”

Imperial said Jeffrey Murray told investigators that his brother had been staying on the family’s property since July 2018 but “had continued to harass and threaten him constantly.”

Jeffrey Murray also alleged that his brother had physically assaulted him in the past, but said he had never called 911 or tried to get a restraining order against his brother “because he did not want to upset their parents,” Imperial wrote.

On Saturday night, Jeffrey Murray said he was sleeping in his trailer when he discovered that his electricity had been turned off, according to Imperial. The elder Murray saw that the electrical meter box was secured with a lock, but when he tried to cut the lock off with bolt cutters, Todd Murray emerged “and began to verbally threaten Murray’s life over electricity over usage,” Imperial said.

Murray told investigators that his younger brother, who wasn’t armed, also blamed him for turning off his electricity and “continued to state he was going to kill Murray and his family,” according to Imperial. The elder Murray said his brother chest-bumped him while they argued, according to the probable cause statement.

But Imperial wrote that although the younger brother continued to taunt the elder Murray, “he continued to retreat in the opposite direction and did not pose a deadly threat toward Murray.” Imperial said the elder Murray told investigators that he ultimately shot his brother “because he was scared.” 

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