Erika Murray in court Friday. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)
WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Closing arguments finished in the murder and child neglect trial of Erika Murray Friday, and her fate now lies with Judge Janet Kenton-Walker.
That's because Murray, the mother at the center of the so-called Blackstone "house of horrors" case, requested a bench trial; there has been no jury present over the last two weeks of testimony.
Murray faces a charge of second-degree murder, as well as several charges of child neglect and animal abuse. The remains of three infants were found in her Blackstone home in 2014; while one was found to have been stillborn and Judge Kenton-Walker said there wasn't enough evidence to conclude a second was ever alive, Murray remains accused of killing the third.
She's also accused of hiding a three-year-old and five-month-old from the world in a squalid, darkened home, and keeping her two older children unaware that the younger ones were even related to them.
WEB EXTRA: A Look At The Blackstone 'House Of Horrors' Trial
In his closing, Prosecutor Christopher Hodgens talked about how Murray is accused of leaving the toddler and baby alone in rooms covered in trash, feces, and insects—and keeping the remains of the three infants in closets.
"She dumped them in a closet, like objects," Hodgens said.
Hodgens said Murray didn't care about any of her seven children except her two oldest.
"There were two sets of rules for children—one for the wanted and the neighbor's children, and one for the unwanted," he said.
He claims Murray knew right from wrong, and knew that she had done something terrible.
"If we look at what she said to [one of her older children] on that day when the veil was lifted, we have our answer," Hodgens said. "She said, 'How could you do this to me?'"
Defense attorney Keith Halpern, however, claims Murray was the victim of her long-time boyfriend, Ray Rivera. Halpern presented mental health experts in Worcester Superior Court who said Murray wasn't capable of being a good mother and didn't understand the condition of her home. In his closing, he claimed Murray didn't have the capacity to understand how bad things were, or that her children were in danger.
"When you look inside the 'house of squalor,' you don't find evidence of a murder," Halpern said, becoming emotional. "You find suffering, and fear, and abuse, and mental illness, and terrible isolation and loneliness—and you find innocent kids who were hurt by it all."
Halpern claims prosecutors weren't objective in their appraisal of the situation, having been so taken aback by the conditions inside the home. He claims they don't have proof that Murray intentionally harmed the children.
"There is nothing there other than speculation—'What are the odds that the baby died of natural causes?'—and that's not evidence," Halpern said.
WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports