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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Crime & Courts

Jury faces life-or-death recommendation for McTear

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Published:   |   Updated: August 1, 2014 at 01:47 PM

— For the last two weeks, jurors have heard how Richard McTear brutally beat his girlfriend and murdered her baby by throwing him out a car window onto Interstate 275.

When confronted by reporters about what he’d done within hours of the killing, McTear notoriously called out to his neighborhood friend and said, “It’s a dirty game.”

Next week, jurors will hear about another side of McTear from defense witnesses who hope to persuade them to spare his life.

Jurors on Thursday convicted McTear of first-degree murder, burglary, kidnapping, battery and child abuse.

During the second phase of his trial, the same jury will hear evidence on whether they should recommend a death sentence for McTear in the murder of Emanuel Wesley Murray Jr., who was not even four months old when he met his fate on the pavement in the dark, early morning hours of May 5, 2009.

Wearing a diaper and a onesie, the infant was found covered in scrapes described as “road rash,” crawling with ants and dead of severe head injuries.

The defense plans to present testimony about McTear’s “good relationship with his children,” according to a court filing, which says McTear’s family will testify about this. McTear also has “continue contact with and concern for his family,” the defense says.

A pastor plans to testify about McTear’s “church activities and positive character traits, according to the defense notice.

The prosecution will argue that McTear should be sentenced to death, partly because he was on felony probation at the time of the murder for another aggravated battery. The victim of that crime will be a prosecution witness during the penalty phase of McTear’s trial, Assistant State Attorney Ronald Gale told Circuit Judge William Fuente on Friday morning.

Another so-called aggravating factor submitted by the prosecution will be that the murder victim was under 12 years old, and that McTear committed the murder in connection with another felony, a burglary.

But defense witnesses will testify that McTear has a “recognized mental illness” and that he suffered from childhood trauma and deprivation that “compromised his social and psychological development.”

He also has, according to the defense, a family history of physical and drug abuse.

Defense lawyers plan to urge jurors to sentence McTear to life in prison without parole, saying he has “potential for rehabilitation” and exhibited good behavior while in the Hillsborough County Jail awaiting trial for the murder.

“He has acclimated to his custodial environment,” and the defense notice says he “will adjust well to life in prison.”

The prosecution plans to present written statements from the baby’s parents, Jasmine Bedwell and Emanuel Wesley Murray Sr.

Bedwell was a 17-year-old foster child in an independent living program with her baby at the time of the attack. The baby’s father was in prison on weapons charges when his baby was born and died.

During the first phase of McTear’s trial, Bedwell was the focus of defense attacks, labeled a liar and a possible suspect in the baby’s killing.

McTear had lived with Bedwell and was present for the baby’s birth. But she testified she asked him to move out when social workers told her he couldn’t live with her. The prosecution says the attack on Bedwell and the baby were motivated by jealousy because she had been with a male friend that night.

Emanuel Murray Sr. wrote a letter from prison in 2009 that he hoped McTear would die behind bars for what he did.

“I know I hate Richard for what he did to my son,” Murray Sr. wrote

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

813-259-7837

Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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