New Castle man arrested in death of infant son
Hours after finding Terrance R. Murphy hiding in a closet, police charged the New Castle man with killing his 6-week-old son.
Murphy, 21, remained in the Lawrence County Jail Saturday on charges of homicide, aggravated assault and simple assault in the death of Terrance Murphy Jr.
“He was premature, he was supposed to be born Nov. 4, but he was born Oct. 18,” said the infant's godmother and cousin, Alexandria Miller, 20, of New Castle. “The milk was making him sick the last few days, but other than that, he was a good baby.”
Miller said the baby's mother, Tyrenna Stockton, 21, was too distraught to talk about the death of her youngest child.
Forensic pathologist Dr. James Smith said that the baby had two large skull fractures, and ruled his death a homicide, police said.
According to a criminal complaint, medics transported the infant shortly before noon Friday from a New Castle apartment that Murphy, Stockton and the baby had been visiting, to Jameson Memorial Hospital. The baby died about 30 minutes later.
Murphy told police that he had propped up the baby with a bottle of formula on a bed in the apartment Friday morning and stepped out of the room, according to a criminal complaint. He said he heard the baby choking and ran back into the bedroom, finding the baby covered with formula he'd vomited.
Police said Murphy first told them he left the bedroom to smoke, but later told them he had been showering, according to the complaint.
In a later interview, police wrote, Murphy said, “It was an accident.”
Murphy said he was in the shower and heard the infant start to cry, so he grabbed the baby from the living room and hurried to the bedroom to give him a bottle, the complaint stated. While holding the infant, with his head cradled in his left arm, Murphy told police, he hit the door frame with his son, who continued to cry.
Miller said she doesn't believe the police account.
“He was a great dad, he couldn't wait for the arrival of his son,” Miller said. “All he kept saying was ‘I love my son, I love my son.'”
Murphy told police he sent Stockton text messages saying he was going to call 911, but she told him not to until she arrived, according to the criminal complaint. Police said records showed that from the time Murphy started to text Stockton, it took 25 minutes for anyone to dial 911.
Stockton had left the apartment about 10:15 a.m. to go on a job interview, the criminal complaint said. She told police that Murphy began texting her at 11:30 a.m. saying something was wrong with the baby and she should return, according to the complaint.
Murphy said he performed CPR on the baby until Stockton arrived, using the adult method, in which both hands are used to do chest compressions, according to the court document.
Murphy told police he called his aunt, Curlene Whittier, who is a nurse, and she and Stockton called 911.
Police said that when they initially photographed the apartment, they found a large hole in the living room wall, and the infant's car seat lying on the living room floor. Murphy later told police that when he thought the baby was dead, he threw the car seat at the wall, while Stockton said, “He punched (the wall). I saw him punch it.”
Police said the hole matched the bottom of the car seat, according to the criminal complaint.
Police returned to the apartment to talk to the parents and found Murphy hiding in a closet in a bedroom. Miller said he did so because he was wanted on a warrant charging him with simple assault and other offenses from a Nov. 5 incident in New Castle.
Neighbor Chaz Freshcorn, 20, said that Friday evening, Murphy and Darius Miller, Alexandria Miller's husband, hung out at Freshcorn's apartment after the baby's death, listening to rap music.
“He didn't even want to talk about it. He just said he wanted to get it off his mind,” Freshcorn said.
Alexandria Miller said the baby was the first together for Stockton and Murphy, who had been together for about a year. Miller said each has another child, Stockton a 1-year-old daughter, and Murphy a 2-year-old daughter.
Staff writer Andrew Conte contributed to this report. Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.