Erika Murray during the second day of the trial. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)
WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It was another day of disturbing and excruciating testimony in the Blackstone "house of horrors" trial, in which a mother is accused of killing her three infants and leaving her other children in a home so hazardously filthy, it had to be demolished by the town.
Erika Murray faces two counts of murder and multiple counts of child neglect.
On Tuesday, the court heard how Murray allegedly kept her children in a house full of filth and squalor—and how a 911 call from a neighbor in 2014 led police to find the skeletal remains of two infants and an unborn child in the home.
The prosecution said in their opening statements on day one that Murray created two worlds for her children—one for the wanted ones, and another for the unwanted ones—but as the trail continued into its second day, witnesses testified to just how different those worlds were.
The day began with the testimony of Acting Blackstone Police Chief Gregory Gilmore, who responded to Murray's home after Murray's neighbor, Betsy Brown, called police.
Brown had been asked to come over by Murray's 10-year-old son, because he couldn't get "the babies"—a three-year-old and five-month-old—to stop crying. According to Gilmore, Murray told him that she had told her two older children she was just babysitting the two younger ones.
Department of Children and Families worker Kerry-Anne Phillips later testified that the 10- and 13-year-olds were not aware the younger children were their siblings.
Gilmore described authorities' search through the house to try to find the identities of the two young children, who prosecutors say were covered in feces.
He said police found a marijuana plant, and a dog in a cage in such bad condition that it couldn't even open its eyes.
Next, the courtroom heard from William Walsh of the Blackstone Board of Health, who said that even five years later, he's stunned by what he saw inside the home.
When police advised him not to leave the bedroom where the filthy toddler was found, he said he remembers telling them, "I have to."
Massachusetts Department of Children and Families social worker Walter McClain also testified to the condition of the house, saying the windows were covered, the floors were strewn with trash, and there was "slime everywhere."
DCF investigator Catherine Francy testified about her interviews with Murray and the father of the children, Raymond Rivera.
Francy said Murray had created a fake Facebook profile for a woman named Michelle Ridgeway—a mother who was constantly traveling and whose kids needed constant care, and who Murray told her older children that the babies belonged to.
She said the two young children recoiled from light and touch in the hospital.
Next, Dr. Peter Sell, a UMass Medical pediatrician, testified to the conditions of those two younger children.
He said the three-year-old would not walk, had bad muscle tone, and was very pale.
He told the court that the child was "like a whole new child" when examined ten months later—laughing and happy to see him.
The five-month-old, Dr. Sell said, was "not striking me as a typical 5 month old,” not moving or kicking. The back of the child's head was flattened, which he said suggested the child spent a lot of time on their back.
Murray's defense attorney Keith Halpern has been arguing that the older child suffered from autism, not abuse, as Dr. Sell and his colleagues concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports