Erika Murray not guilty — A Massachusetts court concluded that Erika Murray was not guilty of second-degree murder at Blackstone’s “House of Horror” trial, after three dead babies were found in her house.
Murray, 35, initially faced two counts of second-degree murder, but Judge Janet Kenton-Walker filed one of the accusations after prosecutors failed to prove that one of the babies born at Murray’s house was alive. The judge finally decided that the defendant was not guilty of murder for their deaths.
The woman was also found not guilty of two counts of a child endangerment, charges that she faced in relation to the welfare of her 13-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old son.
However, she was convicted of two counts of animal cruelty and two counts of assault and battery on a child that caused significant bodily harm. The assault charges involved 3-year-old and 5-month-old girls living in misery.
Kenton-Walker reached a verdict on Wednesday and made the announcement Thursday morning in court.
Shocking details were revealed when people testified during the trial and graphic photographs were shown in court, exposing the horrible and disturbing environment in which four of Murray’s children lived.
Murray’s Blackstone house was full of garbage, infested with worms and insects, had traces of feces on the wall and stink of urine, according to several witnesses.
A state police policeman said he needed to use a hazardous materials suit to properly search the house, and a police chief said that after only 15 minutes in the house, investigators were covered in fleas and insects. Among the dirt were three skeletal remains of Murray’s babies.
The authorities found the bodies inside cardboard boxes in two of the cabinets of the house. One of the babies’ bodies still had the placenta and the body of a dead dog was found inside a bag near the first baby. Prosecutors said a second dead baby was found nearby, “in diapers and fully clothed, but they were skeletal remains.”
The third dead baby was found in another closet in another room. That boy also had diapers and was fully dressed.
The conditions were discovered by a neighbor who responded to the house after a son of Murray asked him if he could help him shut up a baby.
Neighbor Betsy Brown testified that her 10-year-old son was playing with Murray’s 10-year-old son. When Brown’s son went to Murray’s house, he called his mother and told her that she needed help for a baby to stop crying. Brown testified that she did not know of any babies in the neighborhood, but she went to the house anyway.
There, she discovered the dirty conditions and found two girls in the house. The children, 5 months of age and 3 years old, were covered with feces and prosecutors said they showed signs of gross negligence.
Dr. Heather Forkey of UMass Memorial Medical Center said the 3-year-old girl lacked the muscle tone that would be expected from a preschooler who would be running and playing.
Murray’s attorneys used mental illness as a defense.