Areal Flood Advisory issued September 19 at 4:46PM EDT expiring September 19 at 6:15PM EDT in effect for: Hardee, Highlands, Polk
The defense team presented its case Tuesday in the murder trial of Richard McTear Jr., who is accused of throwing a 3-month-old baby from a car on Interstate 275.
McTear, 26, sat expressionless as the team trying to save him from the death penalty attempted to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
The team questioned the credibility of the victim’s mother, Jasmine Bedwell, who sat quietly in the back of the courtroom as a case worker testified that the mother initially blamed someone else for her baby’s death.
Emanuel Murray was found on I-275 in the early morning of May 5, 2009.
"I remember her saying, ‘My baby dead. My baby dead. My uncle beat me up and killed my baby,’” Keisha Latoya Coffie said.
The defense rested their case after hearing from Coffie.
Bedwell, who was only 17 at the time, worked with a nonprofit agency that allowed her to live on her own.
"She said, ‘Help me. Help, please call my case manager," Coffie said.
Prosecutors said little to dispute Coffie's testimony. She was one of several witnesses attacking Bedwell's credibility.
The defense also called Richard McTear Sr., the defendant's father. McTear said he loaned his cellphone to his son just two months before Emanuel died and received numerous phone calls and texts from Bedwell in which she mistakenly thought she was reaching out to his son.
"Yes, I heard threats. She was talking about how she would harm herself or harm the baby," McTear Sr. said.
But prosecutors grilled McTear Sr., asking why he didn't get help for a baby he admitted being fond of although Emanuel was not his son's child.
"I did not call 911. But I talked to my son, and he said he could handle it and she was tripping,” McTear Sr. said.
Prosecutors also pointed out there are no records of these texts or phone calls, only his allegations that he made six months after the baby died. But the defense lawyers counter attacked. They said prosecutors did not approach the elder McTear until January 2010.
They then called a teacher of Bedwell's trying to further their claim she could not be trusted
"I don't want to put [a] label on her as a liar because we all lie, but she is mixed up," said Thomas Scaglione.
His statements were so inflammatory against Bedwell that the judge excused the jury to determine if the testimony should be allowed. In the end most of Scaglione's testimony was permitted.
Prosecutors allege there is DNA evidence linking McTear to the baby's death.
McTear and Bedwell had been estranged when prosecutors said he went into a violent rage after seeing her with another man in the apartment they once shared. They said that he attacked Bedwell and Emanuel, throwing the baby on the concrete and flinging a soda in his face before driving off with him and throwing the infant from his car.
But the defense said no one saw him with the baby the morning he died.
Both sides will present closing arguments Wednesday.
This is the second trial for McTear. The first ended in a mistrial last year when Bedwell made inflammatory statements against him.