TAMPA — After pleading not guilty Wednesday in a Hillsborough courtroom, Richard Anthony McTear Jr. called out a message to the mother of the baby he is accused of killing.
"I love you, Jasmine!" McTear, 21, said loudly as courtroom deputies led him away.
It's unclear if Jasmine Bedwell, 17, heard him.
She had been in the courtroom earlier but left in tears. She soon returned, still crying among family when McTear called out.
Outside the courthouse, Bedwell was too upset to respond to questions about McTear's words. She collapsed in tears, throwing her purse and shoes to the ground and saying, "No, no, no."
Relatives attempting to comfort her declined to comment.
Authorities say McTear attacked Bedwell and her 3-month-old son, Emanuel Wesley Murray, throwing the baby onto concrete before kidnapping him and flinging his body from a car onto Interstate-275 in the early morning hours of May 5.
McTear, known to friends as Rico, is not the baby's father. He has been in custody without bail since his arrest.
More than a half-dozen courtroom deputies surrounded him Wednesday as he sat shackled, alone, in the jury box for his arraignment.
The day before the baby's death, Bedwell was scheduled to appear in court to seek a restraining order against McTear.
But she never showed.
In her request to the court, Bedwell said that McTear had violent tendencies, mental health problems and was armed and dangerous.
Assistant State Attorney Jalal Harb said prosecutors will decide in the next 45 days whether to seek the death penalty.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder scheduled McTear's next court hearing for July 1.
Kevin Graham can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3433.