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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Jade Murray Murder Case : No Justice For Skylar Bradley

     Jade Murray lived in Aurora, Missouri, a town of 7,500 in the southwest corner of the state. On December 14, 2013, the 22-year-old took her 4-year-old son, Skylar Bradley, to a medical facility in Aurora. She told medical personnel that she had found her unresponsive son in his bedroom. That evening he had been ill, and had refused to eat. The doctor noticed that the boy had bruises on his arms, side and back. From Aurora, the critically ill boy was transported to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

     Shortly after arriving at the hospital in Springfield, Skylar Bradley died. According to the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, the boy died of a ruptured spleen. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

     Detectives with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, suspecting child abuse, questioned the dead boy's mother. Jade Murray denied hitting or otherwise abusing her son. Investigators asked if someone else had beaten the child. The mother insisted that he had not been physically mistreated by anybody.

     From people who knew Jade Murray and the boy, the homicide detectives received a different picture. According to these interviewees, the hot-tempered young mother frequently took out her wrath on her son. Several people had witnessed Murray strike the child with her fist, and noticed that he seemed permanently bruised. In one reported incident, Murray had allegedly spanked him so hard the paddle broke.

     Detectives also learned that Murray not only used illegal drugs herself, she regularly gave Skylar NyQuil and even Xanax to sedate him.

     On June 6, 2014, pursuant to an interrogation conducted by the state investigators, Jade Murray confessed to physically abusing her son. On the night he died, she admitted hitting him several times for not obeying. She had allegedly struck him so hard she knocked the child off his bed then ordered him to stay in his room. When she checked on the boy 45 minutes later, she found him unresponsive.

     Following the confession, a Lawrence County prosecutor charged Murray with second-degree murder and second-degree domestic assault. Officers booked the suspect into the county jail. At her arraignment, the judge set her bond at $250,000.

     If convicted of second-degree murder, Murray faced up to thirty years in prison. The domestic assault charge carried a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars.

     On October 20, 2014, an officer with the Missouri State Highway Patrol took the stand at the preliminary hearing to determine if the prosecution had sufficient evidence to warrant a trial in the case. According to the officer, the defendant admitted that she had struck her son hard enough to knock him off his bed. The boy's back hit his brother's bed as he fell.

     Dr. Charles Glenn, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified that the child had bruises on several parts of his body and had died of a ruptured spleen. Under cross-examination by Jade Murray's public defender's office attorney, Dr. Glenn conceded that the victim's enlarged spleen could have been cased by "some sort of viral illness."

     Sergeant Daniel Nash, an investigator with the state patrol, testified that when he questioned the defendant in June 2014, about six months after the boy's death, Murray told him that during the week before the boy died he had been ill. But on the day of his death, his health had improved. When the suspect was pressed regarding exactly how the boy had died, the mother hinted that her boyfriend may have had something to do with his death. According to the witness, Murray eventually admitted striking  her son. She said she hadn't meant to hit him so hard, describing the incident as an accident.

     Following the preliminary hearing testimony, the judge ruled that the state had presented enough evidence to justify a trial in the case. The Murray murder trial was scheduled to be held sometime in 2015.

     In October 2015, pursuant to a plea bargain arrangement between the defendant and Lawrence County prosecutor Don Trotter, Murray pleaded guilty to the charge of second-degree domestic assault. In return for the plea, Murray received a five year prison sentence and credit for two years of time already served in the county jail. As a result, she would be eligible for parole within months of her sentence.

     This incredibly light sentence outraged the community and sparked citizen protests outside the courthouse. In defending the deal, prosecutor Trotter said the murder case against Murray would have been difficult to prove.

     

2 comments:

  1. Just a slight typo. You typed 3013 in the first paragraph in error.
    I do so very much enjoy your blog.
    Jenn 💖

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

    ReplyDelete