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Public defender tapped for defense in author's slaying

Nicholas J. Reppucci, of the Office of the Public Defender has been appointed to represent the 38-year-old woman charged in the slaying of Albemarle author and arts provocateur Matthew Farrell.

Shawna Marie Natalie Murphy faces a charge of second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Court records indicate that Murphy had her first hearing Wednesday afternoon in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

There, a judge ordered her held without bail, and she is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Reppucci declined to discuss the case Thursday other than to note that no plea has yet been entered.

Police said previously that they were summoned to a house in the 2100 block of Stony Point Road on a domestic disturbance call Tuesday morning. When they arrived at 8:41 a.m., Farrell was dead from a gunshot wound.

Farrell has been credited with boosting Charlottesville’s local arts scene in the 1990s.

Murphy, according to her online records and videos, is self-described “street performer” whose skills include juggling, clowning and fire dancing.

On Thursday, Albemarle Police revealed that they sent bomb-sniffing dogs and disposed of explosives that were allegedly on the property. However, the release also notes that the items “posed no threat to the public or surrounding properties prior to their disposal.”

Jamie Dyer, a friend of Farrell, said he knows why.

“Farrell showed me this fake hand grenade last time I was out there,” said Dyer. “So that’s what they saw. He used to mail them to people full of hot sauce.”

The property also included a replica World War I-style trench system which, Dyer said, part of Farrell’s fondness for technology and history.

Murphy has her next appearance, a status hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 12.


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