A Massachusetts woman accused in a “house of horrors” case was acquitted on June 20 of murder charges.
Erika Murray, 35, was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of three babies who were found deceased inside a closet in her home in 2014, the Boston Herald reported.
She was found not guilty of child endangerment charges, but she was found guilty of assault and battery on a child, the paper reported, reported Boston25 News.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker said that Murray’s mental impairment kept her from understanding how bad things had become inside her Boston-area home.
“Cognitive deficits, personality disorder and victimization … produced extremely primitive coping mechanisms,” Judge Kenton-Walker was quoted by the station as saying. “She was not conscious or aware of how bad everything had become.”
She was also found guilty of two counts of cruelty to animals, CBS Boston reported.
“This case involves a senseless, tragic story about a dysfunctional parent and her family. Regardless of how disturbing the facts of this case are to the community at large and to me as a parent, I cannot take into account those feelings,” said Walker in the CBS affiliate report.
Murray will be sentenced on July 11.
Walker said that she suffered from a combination of personality disorder and abuse by her boyfriend.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early issued a statement after her verdict was handed down.
“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. I would like to thank the Blackstone Police Department, the State police detectives and all of the state police employees who worked so hard on this case. And also, I’d like to thank our prosecutor Chris Hodgens for all his hard work,” Early stated.
— Boston 25 News (@boston25) June 20, 2019
Prosecutors, however, had argued that Murray knew what she was doing and lived a life of relative secrecy to cover up her misdeeds.
The babies’ bodies were discovered in September 2014 while officials performed a wellness check, saying that the house was filled with trash and was infested with insects and rodents, the CBS affiliate reported.
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) June 20, 2019
Meanwhile, Murray’s lawyer had argued that she is mentally ill, arguing there were no evidence she caused the baby’s death. Walker also said that there was no evidence that the other child was born alive.
“For a lawyer, given my role, it’s a victory of sorts, but she lost her kids,” said defense attorney Keith Halpern. “I mean so for her, this tragedy is forever.”
Murray was arrested in 2014 after three babies’ bodies were discovered inside closets of her filthy home in Blackstone, about 50 miles southwest of Boston along the Rhode Island border. Four living children were also removed from the home, according to The Associated Press.
The children first came to the attention of police when a 10-year-old boy who lived in the house went to a neighbor and asked for her help to get a baby to stop crying. The neighbor went into the house and found a crying baby on a bed, covered in feces, and no adults around.
Police were called and officials removed four living children—the 10-year-old boy as well as 13-year-old, 3-year-old, and 6-month-old girls—from the home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.