Blackstone 'House Of Horrors' Trial Focuses On Mom's Mental State

erika murray

Erika Murray, escorted into court for day seven of the so-called Blackstone "house of horrors" trial. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)

WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — On Wednesday, the murder trial of Erika Murray focused on testimony about the Blackstone mother's mental state around the time her so-called "house of horrors" was discovered in 2014.

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Murray faces one charge of second-degree murder, as well as several child neglect and animal abuse charges. The remains of three infants were found in her home, as well as a toddler and infant she was allegedly hiding from the world and subjecting to horrid conditions.

WEB EXTRA: A Look At The Blackstone 'House Of Horrors' Trial - Thumbnail Image

WEB EXTRA: A Look At The Blackstone 'House Of Horrors' Trial

Murray initially faced another second-degree murder charge, which was thrown out Tuesday after Judge Janet Kenton-Walker decided there wasn't enough evidence that one of the infants had ever been alive.

The third child whose remains were found in the home was determined to have been stillborn.

Judge Throws Out 1 Of 2 Murder Charges In Blackstone House Of Horrors Trial - Thumbnail Image

Judge Throws Out 1 Of 2 Murder Charges In Blackstone House Of Horrors Trial

Murray's home—described by witnesses earlier throughout the trial as filled with trash, covered in filth, infested with insects, and emitting a horrible odor—eventually had to be torn down.

But Dr. Lisa Rocchio, a clinical and forensic psychologist who spoke with Murray for five and a half hours, said the "house of horrors" wasn't a horror to Murray.

“Erika failed to appreciate the squalor,” says Dr Lisa Rocchio.

Dr. Rocchio claims Murray was a victim of intimate partner violence, psychologically, verbally, and fiscally abused by Ray Rivera, her boyfriend of 14 years who says he had no idea he was the father of more than two children.

She also said Murray suffered from depression and personality disorders, and that all of this affected her long-term planning abilities.

"She really did not think ahead, she did not engage in long-term problem solving," Rocchio said. "She needed to solve the immediate problem of avoiding detection of, that this child had been born and had died."

The Commonwealth was skeptical.

"You're aware that she successfully hid five pregnancies over an eight-year period, right?" prosecutor Christopher Hodgens asked.

"Yes. Well, you said long-term planning," Rocchio said. "So, I don't believe that there's evidence of long-term planning in the hiding of those pregnancies."

Hodgens also pointed to a fake Facebook profile, which Murray created to explain the presence of the two "hidden" children, the toddler and three year old, to the older children and Rivera.

Dr. Judith Edersheim, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, testified next. Dr. Edersheim testified that Murray had "a pretty low IQ for the population," used "rigid thinking," lacked imagination and mental flexibility, had no hobbies, and couldn't pass her driver's test.

Edersheim agreed with Dr. Rocchio that Murray has avoidance and dependency disorder.

Dr. Edersheim said Murray was never a mother at all—rather, it was Murray's mother who took care of the children, handling driving, shopping, and doctor's appointments.

She claims it was after Murray and Rivera moved to Blackstone that things began to go downhill.

In opening statements, the state said Murray created two worlds for her children—one of light, and one of darkness for the children she didn't want.

"What was happening inside the home in Blackstone was a fair representation of Erika's poor functioning," Dr. Edersheim said. "There wasn't a darkness and a light in that house, there was only darkness."

Earlier in the morning, the defense called Pediatrician Dr. Howard Kay to the stand to discuss the conditions the toddler and three-year-old were living in, and how that affected them.

The defense rested after Dr. Edersheim's testimony. The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the prosecution's rebuttal.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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