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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 15 November, 2019

Woman who hid existence of babies pleads not guilty to their murders

Erika Murray gave birth to her five youngest children in the house’s bathroom, attempting to hide their existence from their father.

Warning: The below article contains details some readers may find distressing.

A MOTHER WHOSE infants were found dead amid squalid conditions in her Massachusetts home has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and other charges.

Police found the skeletal remains of three babies at the house, which was filled with pests, animal skeletons and used nappies. It was demolished in October.

Erika Murray (31) spoke clearly as she was arraigned yesterday on nine charges. Judge James Lemire ordered her to be held without bail. Her next court date is 4 February.

The mother of seven children — four living, three deceased — had originally been charged with fetal death concealment. She had pleaded not guilty to that lower charge in September and has been jailed on $1 million (about €823,000) bail since.

Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Murray on the nine counts. The charges also include 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.

Murray’s lawyer, Keith Halpern, has said there’s no evidence she caused the deaths of the three babies.

Prosecutors said Murray gave birth to the five youngest children in the house’s bathroom, attempting to hide their existence from their father because he did not want to have more children. She appears to have kept them almost entirely in upstairs bedrooms filled with rubbish.

The children “weren’t the only captives in this house,” Halpern said after Monday’s hearing:

She was too. … She was mentally ill to the point where she was incapable of doing anything. The house looked the way it looked because she was sick. If she was determined to murder these children, why did they find three corpses and not five? … It does not make sense to portray her as a serial child killer.

The two murder charges relate to two dead infants who were found wearing nappies and one-piece outfits. The other set of remains were of a foetus, authorities have said. All three were found in wardrobes.

Remaining Children

Assistant District Attorney John Bradley said the dead foetus had the placenta and umbilical cord still attached; the 3-year-old could neither talk nor walk, was severely malnourished and had maggots in her ears; and a nearly 6-month-old appeared to have spent much of her young life on her back.

Murray’s four living children, who ranged in age from about 5 months to 13 years when they were removed from the home in September, are in the custody of state child welfare officials.

Raymond Rivera, Murray’s boyfriend and the father of the children, has pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including two counts of assault and battery causing substantial bodily injury and two counts of reckless endangerment of a child.

He claims he lived in the basement and was unaware of the conditions in the rest of the house, let alone the existence of two of the children — an argument that prosecutors contest. Rivera, 38, is being held on $100,000 (€82,000) bail. He is due back in court on 14 January.

Two cops helped to deliver a baby on a subway on Christmas Day

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Associated Press

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