Testimony Given in Fraud Case A hearing to determine whether alleged con artist David Michael Murray, 31, will stand trial on 12 counts of fraud continued Thursday, as his former benefactor testified how she grew suspicious of his tale of woe.
Dorothy Johnson of Ojai testified that she initially believed Murray's story that he was Shi Stone, a 17-year-old hemophiliac son of an Army officer wounded in the U.S. invasion of Panama.
She said she and her husband Ken welcomed Murray into their home at the end of January--registering him in school, giving him pocket money and helping him open a checking account.
"I bought the story that he was stranded from Panama, and I thought it was the proper thing to do," Johnson said.
But Johnson said she grew suspicious when Murray told her several outlandish stories that she could not confirm with others.
About six weeks after Murray arrived to stay with her family, Johnson said, she searched his room. She said she found a receipt from a Phoenix gas station dated Dec. 19, when Murray was supposedly in Panama. Johnson said she also discovered that he was in the process of making an identification card for himself.
Later that day, she reported him to the police, who discovered that Murray has a criminal record in six states. He is being held without bail in the Ventura County Jail on charges of violating parole, including one from a 1980 auto-theft conviction in Ventura.
Ventura Municipal Judge John E. Dobroth said he expects to conclude the pretrial hearing today if Murray stands trial on the 12 counts of defrauding Ventura businesses and Ojai residents of more than $4,000.