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December 4, 2012

Homicide Charge: Autopsy shows baby had skull fractures

NEW CASTLE — A weekend autopsy revealed that 6-week-old Terrance Murphy Jr. died from a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage.

His father, Terrance R. Murphy Sr., 21, is in the Lawrence County jail facing homicide-related charges.

Police learned of the infant’s death around 1 p.m. Friday when they were called to Jameson Hospital, according to court documents.

A hospital representative told them the baby was unresponsive when he arrived at the emergency room wearing only a diaper. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Murphy told police he was at a Castle Arms apartment alone with the baby and had him propped up on the bed with a bottle of formula. He said he went to another room to smoke a cigarette and was gone a moment when he heard the baby choking. He ran back and saw the baby covered with vomit, he told police.

Murphy said he wiped off the baby and suctioned out his mouth and nose with a bulb syringe, but couldn’t tell if he was breathing, so he texted the baby’s mother, Tyrenna Stockton, and told her to come right away.

Murphy told police he gave the baby cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

He said when Stockton arrived, they called the baby’s aunt, who is a nurse. She told them to call 911, and the city fire department and ambulance personnel met them in the lobby.

Stockton told police she had left in the morning and received text messages from Murphy that something was wrong with the baby.

She said when she arrived she found the baby on the bed with vomit on him and Murphy performing CPR. She told police the infant had been throwing up his formula lately.

Police said they found the baby’s car seat on its side along the west wall of the living room and a large hole in the drywall on the south wall. Investigators determined the hole was consistent with the bottom of the car seat.

They learned from looking at Murphy’s phone that 25 minutes had elapsed between when he texted Stockton and 911 was called.

The police were summoned to the autopsy at Heritage Valley Health Center in Beaver around 7 p.m. Friday, and learned forensic pathologist Dr. James Smith had found a skull fracture.

Smith told them there was bleeding on the inside of the baby’s scalp and two large fractures on the left side of his skull. There also was a large brain hemorrhage.

Smith ruled the cause of death as homicide resulting from blunt force trauma to the head.

When police returned to Castle Arms to find Stockton, they found Murphy hiding in a bedroom closet and arrested him. Both were taken to the police station.

Stockton told police that the three of them had stayed at the apartment Thursday night and she had left Friday morning. She said when she returned, she found the baby propped up on the couch and he seemed fine.

She said she left again around 9:30 to run an errand and returned around 10 and the baby was propped on the bed drinking a bottle. She left at 10:15 for a job interview, she told police, and received text messages from Murphy around 11:30 a.m.

Murphy told police he had been in the shower and heard the baby crying. He said he grabbed the child from the living room and hurried into the bedroom with him. He said he was cradling the baby’s head in his left arm and struck the door frame with the baby.

He told police it was after that when he put the child on the bed, propped up a bottle for him, then went to smoke.

Murphy is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and simple assault. He is in the Lawrence County jail without bond, awaiting a Dec. 11 preliminary hearing.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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