Erika Murray found not guilty of murdering three babies. Massachusetts mother found guilty of animal cruelty and the assault and battery of a child
Erika Murray (35) was cleared of the second-degree murder of her three babies, whose bodies were found in her squalid and vermin-infested Massachusetts home. She was convicted of lesser charges.
Murray was arrested in 2014 after the three babies’ bodies were found in her Blackstone, MA, home, in a closet. Four living children were also removed from the filthy home.
The mother's defense lawyers argued that Murray suffered from mental illness and argued that there was no evidence that she had caused the babies death. They also suggested the babies could have been stillborn.
Judge Kenton-Walker: On single murder charge, Erika Murray found not guilty. Judge Refers to moments Ms. Murray found the baby not breathing but did not seek to help in any way. Not clear that CPR would have helped. More soon. @GaryMurrayTG pic.twitter.com/kP6Yu4Wszc— Telegram & Gazette (@telegramdotcom) June 20, 2019
Speaking in court on Thursday Judge Janet Kenton-Walker said prosecutors failed to prove that Murray caused the death of one of the babies she had been charged with killing.
The judge said, “Regardless of how disturbing the facts surrounding this case are to the community at large and to me as a parent, I cannot take into account those feelings,” the AP reports.
Murray was found guilty of animal cruelty and the assault and battery of a child. She will remain in custody until her sentencing on July 11.
Murray was emotionally abused by her boyfriend, has cognitive deficits and a personality disorder, which sent her into a depression and her home into squalor.
"In her mind, Ms. Murray believed she was a good mother to all her children," the Judge said.
The accused home, in Blackstone, MA, was infested with rodents, dead animals, dirty diapers and trash. Judge Kenton-Walker called the case “senseless” and “tragic” but said her ruling was guided by the case’s evidence rather than her own emotions.
Defense attorney Keith Halpern told reporters on Thursday “She is obviously mentally ill or she wouldn't be living in those circumstances.”
Follow the court ruling Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr issued a statement. He said “This was a very hard case with a very difficult set of facts as it always is when dealing with children who are victims. It has emotionally affected many people throughout Worcester County. We appreciate all the time and effort the judge put into her decision in this case. The court has spoken.”
Similarly, Blackstone Acting Police Chief Gregory Gilmore said in a statement “This was a challenging case from the very beginning, but it has been most difficult for the children involved in this horrific situation. We also hope that with the end of this case, our community, which was shocked to our very core, can find closure.”
Murray’s home first came to the attention of the police when a ten-year-old who lived at the home went to a neighborhood seeking their help to stop a baby crying. When the neighbor entered the house, they found the baby on a bed, covered in feces, with no adult supervision.
The police removed four living children – aged 10, 13, three and six months – from the house.
The authorities later found the remains of three dead babies inside cardboard boxes in bedroom closets. Two were wearing diapers and clothing. The third still had placenta attached.
Initially, Murray was charged with two of the babies’ deaths. However, the judge dropped one of the murder counts as prosecutors could not prove that one of the babies was born alive.
The prosecutors argued that Murray found the other baby not breathing and had caused the baby’s death by failing to call 911 or perform CPR. The judge agreed but said there was no evidence to prove that if Murray had called for help the child would have lived.
Murray was also found not guilty of reckless endangerment of her two older children. The Judge stated that Murray’s mental state had prevented her from understanding how bad the home's conditions had become.