Purnell sentenced to two life terms plus 75 years

Pleaded guilty to murdering an Oak Orchard neighbor
April 29, 2014
Michael Purnell SOURCE FILE

Michael Purnell was sentenced to two life terms plus 75 years for the rape and murder of an Oak Orchard neighbor on Halloween night in 2011.

In March, Purnell accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to five charges: second-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and two charges of possession of a deadly weapon during the course of a felony. The life sentences were handed down for murder and rape.

Purnell, who has an intellectual disability preventing him from facing the death penalty, pleaded guilty to strangling 70-year-old Dorothy Gudger in her home with a belt. Gudger lived alone a few houses away from Purnell in the River Village community in Oak Orchard.

Court documents show Purnell entered Gudger’s home with the intention of raping her; as he did so, he strangled her with a belt. Purnell also put a plastic bag over her head to smother her.