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Crime & Courts

Case worker lied, slain baby's mom says

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Published:   |   Updated: July 13, 2013 at 09:16 AM

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TAMPA - The woman whose baby was thrown from a moving car onto Interstate 275 first blamed the infant's slaying on a relative and not her boyfriend, Richard McTear Jr., according to court documents.

Jasmine Bedwell, the mother of the 3-month-old boy, was frantic when she phoned an on-call employee of a local foster care agency on May 5, 2009, the documents said.

"It was a person screaming like, hysterical on my phone, 'My baby died, my baby died, my uncle beat me up and killed my baby,'?" case worker Keshia Coffie said in a deposition.

McTear is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Bedwell's son, Emanuel Wesley Murray. McTear's trial is scheduled for Aug. 12, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.

On Friday, Bedwell told The Tampa Tribune that she didn't make the allegations outlined in the deposition and that Coffie was lying.

"It's not true," Bedwell said. "I don't know where she (Coffie) got that from."

The court documents tell a different account.

Coffie met with prosecutors, public defenders and a court reporter last month for her 90-minute deposition. Coffie said at the time of Bedwell's call, she was a specialist for Camelot, a company contracted by the state Department of Children & Families, whose job was to find compatible homes for children in foster care.

Coffie said she was the specialist on-call the day Emanuel's body was found and had never met Bedwell or been assigned to her case.

Bedwell was 17 at the time and living on her own but was monitored by the state because she was a foster child. Bedwell was at the hospital when she called Coffie because nurses needed authorization before they could treat her, the documents said.

"I think the nurse took the phone from her and said, 'I have Jasmine Bedwell here.' And I was familiar with her name, just somehow," Coffie said.

The case worker, who now lives in South Florida, said Bedwell was sobbing and seemed scared.

During the deposition, Assistant Public Defender Mike Peacock asked Coffie if she was certain Bedwell told her an uncle killed Emanuel.

"Yes," Coffie said.

Peacock then asked, "Did you ever hear her make an allegation that Richard McTear, or Richard Anthony McTear Jr. had killed the baby?"

"No," Coffie said.

Prosecutors and public defenders declined to comment on Coffie's statements.

Investigators said McTear forced his way into Bedwell's apartment on May 5, 2009, beat her and threw a baby carrier against a wall, with Emanuel in it, causing the infant to fall to a concrete floor. Detectives said McTear then drove off with the baby, who was Bedwell's son from a different father, and threw the infant onto the shoulder of I-275. The baby later died.

McTear was arrested later that day.

"It's a dirty game," McTear said, after cursing the media. "It's a dirty game."

During the June 20 deposition, attorneys asked Coffie how she was familiar with Bedwell.

"I wasn't there very long, but everybody knows of all the teens in the system that has any kind of colorful history," Coffie said.

Bedwell frequently ran away from home, according to the documents, and Coffie said other employees described the young mother as having constant "drama" in her life.

"I just remember them talking mostly about her life being a mess," Coffie said.

When attorneys asked Coffie why she didn't tell law enforcement about the phone call from the hospital, Coffie said she thought Bedwell could have been lying.

"I just shrugged it off, you know," Coffie said. "I just thought she lied to me, that's it. I don't know her, it's nothing personal, so you know, she lied. That's what I thought."

rreyes@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7920

Twitter@TBORay

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