A Massachusetts woman who lived in a squalid, vermin-infested home where authorities found the remains of three babies was cleared Thursday of second-degree murder.
A judge said prosecutors did not prove that Erika Murray caused the death of one of the babies whom she had been charged with killing. But Murray was found guilty of other charges, including assault and battery on a child.
Murray was arrested in 2014 after the babies' bodies were discovered inside closets of her filthy home in Blackstone, Massachusetts, about 50 miles southwest of Boston along the Rhode Island border.
Four living children were also removed from the home, which was filled with rodents, dead animals, dirty diapers and trash.
She was initially charged in two of the babies' deaths, but the judge dropped one of the murder counts because he said prosecutors couldn't prove one of those babies was born alive.
Murray's attorney said she suffered from mental illness and argued there's no evidence she caused the babies' deaths, suggesting they could have been stillborn.
The children first came to the attention of police when a 10-year-old boy who lived in the house went to a neighbor and asked for her help to get a baby to stop crying. The neighbor went into the house and found a crying baby on a bed, covered in feces, and no adults around.
Police were called and officials removed four living children — the 10-year-old boy as well as 13-year-old, 3-year-old and 6-month-old girls — from the home.
Authorities later found the remains of the three dead babies inside cardboard boxes in bedroom closets. Two of them were wearing diapers and clothing and the third still had the placenta attached, authorities said.