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Grim details emerge of the night infant was tossed onto I-275

TAMPA — The last time Jasmine Bedwell saw her baby boy alive, he was lying on the pavement, screaming, and her abusive ex-boyfriend was leaning over to pick him up.

Scratched, choked and beaten herself, Bedwell told detectives she raced away from her child, seeking someone to call 911 because he had her cell phone.

"I didn't think he was going to take my baby," a regretful Bedwell later told detectives.

Three-month-old Emanuel Murray, Jr. was found dead a little while later — at 4:17 a.m. on May 5 — after being thrown from a car window, deputies said.

Emanuel lay face down eight inches from moving traffic on Interstate 275. He wore a tattered diaper and a blue onesie.

An autopsy says ants covered his broken and bruised 2-foot, 17-pound body — lifeless due to blunt trauma to his head and severe abrasions to his arms and legs.

Hundreds of pages of documents released Tuesday by the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office reveal these and other new details into the homicide investigation that horrified Tampa Bay.

Police reports and interviews with witnesses paint murder suspect Richard "Rico" McTear, 21, as a jealous ex-boyfriend who seemed convinced she was dating someone new.

The records also show that Bedwell admitted being with McTear on the night of Friday May 1 or the morning of May 2, just three days before Emanuel's death, although she knew there were warrants for his arrest , and even though she had sought a restraining order against him.

Bedwell said she had been spending the night with McTear's aunt, only to be awoken by McTear sitting on the edge of her bed, thumbing through her phone contacts asking about a man she'd befriended, a man named Liderrius Moore, 28.

Bedwell said McTear telephoned Moore, then turned on her, starting to choke her. He only stopped when his aunt came in and ordered him away.

The next day, McTear jumped into the car as Bedwell and McTear's father headed to House of Meats.

"I told Rico daddy if Rico started with me I was gonna call the police on him, honestly this time," Bedwell told detectives three days after Emanuel's death.

"Rico daddy says, 'Do what you gotta do.' "

No one called police.

Lots of people knew of past violence between Bedwell and McTear, the records show.

Two neighbors told deputies they overheard McTear threaten to kill Bedwell and her son the month prior to the death.

One, Tomeka Williams, said she wasn't planning to renew her lease because of the constant turmoil next door, which she said often spilled out into the sidewalk in front of her apartment.

And neighbor Elyanna Gonzalez told investigators that about a month before the death, she heard McTear tell Bedwell that he "was going to shoot the baby in the head and piss on his body."

The morning Emanuel died, Bedwell had spent hours at Moore's house.

She told the St. Petersburg Times last month that she sought shelter with Moore after receiving numerous phone calls and threatening messages from McTear, who would use his aunt's phone or call from a restricted phone number.

Records show that more than 130 calls were made to Bedwell's phone the day before the Emmanuel Murray's death from a phone belonging to McTear's aunt. The calls began at 11:53 a.m. and increased in frequency and brevity until 11:35 p.m.

In the wee hours of May 5, Moore carried Emanuel into Bedwell's apartment. Deputies say McTear was lurking silently inside.

Moore set the car seat by the couch, then turned to leave.

"All right goodnight, baby," he said, and kissed Bedwell on the cheek, according to Bedwell's statements to detectives.

She locked the door and McTear came at her from inside the house, she said.

"Who was that ... calling you 'baby?' " McTear asked.

Then, according to documents, McTear proceeded to choke her, punch her, bite her and pry her mouth open with his fingers

Bedwell told detectives he threw Emanuel twice inside the apartment, then ordered her to keep the baby quiet.

She says she ran toward the door for safety with the baby in her arms, but McTear plucked the child from her.

During an first interview with detectives on May 5, when she was in the hospital, Bedwell said McTear took the baby from her arms, and ordered her to sit down. Then he went into another room, she said, and she ran, hearing her baby screaming as she sought help.

"Something just telling me just go," Bedwell said. "And I didn't want to leave my baby, but I had to call police cause if I woulda stayed in there, both us, you know..."

"It's alright," the interviewing detective told her. " You had to get help."

In an interview three days later, she said McTear plucked the baby from her arms, then tossed him on the pavement, at which point she ran for help, never to see her son again.

These days, McTear appears to be turning to faith to help him as he awaits trial on charges that include first degree murder, domestic battery and kidnapping — charges that could carry the death penalty if he's convicted.

In one letter from jail, McTear compares himself to a blind man healed by Jesus in Bible.

In another, he writes to a woman he calls "mom" in St. Cloud, Ill., quoting Bible verses.

"The battle is already won," he wrote. "I claim it in the name of Jesus name and I encourage you that he has this in His hands. "

-- Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Grim details emerge of the night infant was tossed onto I-275 08/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 7, 2009 2:48pm]
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