Life has taken a bad turn for the two Quapaw, Okla., youngsters who thought nothing about throwing a rock off the Will Rogers Turnpike on Jan. 11, 1994, and killing Sheila Mayfield of Jasper.
The Oklahoma Probation and Parole Board denied Paul Wessley Murray's parole application earlier this month.
Murray and Benji Tramell, both Quapaw High School students at the time, were apprehended not long after the murder. Murray was tried as an adult because he was 16 years old. Tramell had been born just at the right time to escape that fate. He was only 15, two months away from his 16th birthday when Sheila Mayfield was murdered, so his case went through the juvenile courts.
More than five years passed before Murray finally pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree. He was initially charged with first degree murder after Oklahoma officers found a notebook in his school locker which depicted the same scenario which had claimed Sheila Mayfield's life.
Later, the charge was downgraded to second degree murder, to get Murray to enter his plea and to finally bring the case to a close.Murray entered an Alford plea, meaning he conceded there was enough evidence to convict him, but he was not saying he was actually guilty.
As a part of the plea agreement, Murray's sentence was to be reviewed in 120 days and if he maintained good behavior during that time, his sentence would be reduced from 15 to only five years in prison.I never had the chance to follow up on what happened to Paul Murray after those 120 days. Despite the fact that at the same time he was pleading no contest to the murder charge, he had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge and to driving while intoxicated, Murray was released after four months despite a pre-sentence investigation which said he remained a "danger and a threat to the community and himself."
His brushes with the law did not end. On March 12, 2002, he pleaded guilty to a public intoxication charge. Four months later, he was stopped and charged with not wearing a seat belt. On March 10, 2003, it was failure to pay child support. Finally, and no information is available from court records as to what ended up sending Murray to prison, it was determined that he had violated the terms of his parole and he was sent to the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite on Sept. 11, 2003. Even though Murray had barely spent two years behind bars, he still had a chance for parole before the board ruled against him.
Benji Tramell was sent to a juvenile correctional facility and was released with a clean record when he turned 18.
Though he apparently has no crimes on his record, Tramell has continued to have his name featured in public records.
His only Oklahoma offense occurred eight years ago when he was stopped for driving 84 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone.
Two women filed for protection orders against him in Missouri, both times in Jasper County. One woman filed for protection order on Sept. 13, 2001. A temporary order was granted, but no full order of protection was asked for and the temporary order was dismissed Sept. 24, 2001.
Tramell's wife, Lori J. Tramell, filed for a protection order on May 22, 2002, and a full order of protection was granted for six months, beginning on June 4, 2002, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records. Mrs. Tramell filed for divorce on Sept. 9, 2002. The divorce was granted Nov. 8, 2002. Court records indicate there were no children born of the marriage.
Today, Benji Tramell filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri. He listed as his assets a checking account with $5 in it, a VCR worth $25, clothing worth $50, $10 in cash, and a 1985 Pontiac Trans-Am worth $400. He listed $41,742 in debt, including a student loan and numerous medical bills.
According to bankruptcy court records, Tramell is employed by Freeman Hospital in Joplin.