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Pretrial conference set in jeweler’s slaying case

The woman accused of killing Pottsville businessman Patrick Murphy has a pretrial conference March 31.

During the pretrial conference in New Orleans Criminal District Court, lawyers for both sides discuss the case.

A trial date may not be far off as the jury trial moratorium will expire March 31, paving the way for trial courts to start trials April 1. Information on the Louisiana Supreme Court website says “jury trials may resume when local courts have determined that jury trials can be held in a safe environment, with observance of safety protocols, including strict social distancing and mask mandates.”

Megan Hall is in jail at the Orleans Parish Justice Center on $750,000 bond. She is charged with second-degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice for the Feb. 28, 2019, death of Murphy. A grand jury voted to indict Hall in June 2019.

Police say Hall stabbed Murphy at The Empress Hotel, 1317 Ursulines St., in the Treme section of New Orleans. A hotel employee found his body at 11:41 a.m.

Murphy, who had been the owner of Murphy Jewelers, had been visiting the city with his wife after he attended a jewelry convention in Arizona.

If Hall is convicted of the murder charge, she faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence. An armed robbery conviction is 10 to 99 years in state prison, and up to 40 years for the obstruction charge.