Massachusetts Judge Tosses One Murder Charge in ‘House of Horrors’ Mother Trial

June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

A Massachusetts judge has dismissed one of two murder charges facing a woman after police found three dead babies in a Blackstone home dubbed the “House of Horrors.”

Judge Janet Kenton-Walker was cited by NBC10 Boston as saying on Tuesday, June 11, that there was “no evidence here that that baby was alive, and therefore it could not have been a victim of a homicide.”

Following the judge’s decision, 35-year-old Erika Murray now faces one murder and several other charges in connection with the 2014 discovery of the babies’ bodies in her trash-strewn and vermin-infested house.

A concerned neighbor called the police in August 2014 and a search revealed the remains of two infants and one fetus hidden in bedroom closets. According to CBS Boston, one of the babies still had an umbilical cord attached.

Besides finding the remains of three babies, investigators also discovered four living children inside Murray’s since-demolished “House of Horrors.”

Worcester Telegram reported former Assistant District Attorney John Bradley said: “The upstairs was filthy beyond belief. There was an overwhelming stench of feces.” He said an infant police found in the home looked like she had been “dipped in feces” and that in some places dirty diapers were stacked over a foot high.

Blackstone Acting Police Chief Gregory Gilmore said after just 15 minutes inside the house, he described being covered with bugs.

“The investigators began to notice bugs or flying insects, fleas began to collect on our clothing,” Gilmore said. “There was some further concern about our health.”

Murray’s house was demolished by order of the town’s Board of Health, Mass Live reported, after authorities determined home was too filthy to be restored.

‘No Evidence’ Baby Was Alive

Prosecutors have tried to make the case against Murray of murder, arguing the babies were alive for some time after their home birth and not stillborn.

Christopher Hodgens, a prosecutor, was cited by NBC Boston as saying in court, “There’s ample evidence to find Erika Murray caused the death of her children with malice.”

Murray’s defense attorney Keith Halpern challenged this claim, arguing that the fact that the two youngest living children were found alive “suggests there was no intention to kill anyone, there was simply an intention to hide everything.”

Halpern was further cited by NBC as saying that there was “insufficient evidence to establish that more than one baby was born alive.”

The judge sided with the defense with respect to one of the deceased infants.

“There is no evidence presented by the Commonwealth… that the baby was ever born,” Judge Kenton-Walker said on the sixth day of Murray’s trial. “You can only cause the death where the victim was alive.”

Murray now faces one count of second-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of cruelty to animals, and one count of concealing a fetal death.

Her defense maintains she is mentally ill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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