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Mother of baby thrown onto interstate was a child herself, attorney says

TAMPA — Jasmine Bedwell's life was already troubled.

An ex-boyfriend stands accused of throwing her infant son onto Interstate 275.

Wednesday brought more trouble.

She found herself on the ground and in handcuffs after a detective was sent to investigate her Tuesday night disappearance from foster care.

Now, she faces a charge of resisting an officer without violence.

Bedwell, 17, was in GED classes at Kimmins Early Head Start Center when the detective approached.

"As soon as she saw him and he identified himself as a sheriff's deputy, she just started using the F-bomb and 'Why are you bothering me?' and 'Why are you here?' " sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Bedwell's relationship with the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office is strained at best. She blames the agency for the death of Emanuel W. Murray Jr., her 3-month-old son, found lifeless on the highway May 5.

She and her attorney also blame the Florida Department of Children and Families; its nonprofit contractor, Hillsborough Kids Inc.; and the apartment complex where she lived when her son was abducted.

Ex-boyfriend Richard McTear, 21, faces murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse charges. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

But Bedwell and her attorney say others should answer as well.

She's a child herself, in the care and custody of the state of Florida, attorney W. Thomas Wadley said.

Last month, he notified the three agencies and the apartment complex that Bedwell may pursue legal action against them for wrongful death.

Bedwell was living on her own with the assistance and guidance of state social workers when the baby was killed.

Wadley said the DCF, the Sheriff's Office child protection investigators, Hillsborough Kids Inc., and Marbella Apartments all shoulder some responsibility for ensuring the safety of the teen mother and her baby.

He said apartment management had a duty to help ensure Bedwell's physical safety from McTear. She asked to be moved, he said, but the complex took no action.

"Jasmine Bedwell is a child," Wadley said. "She's a minor and she obviously was a child who … was abused, abandoned and neglected. She is poor, uneducated, unsophisticated, and had no experience in child rearing."

That is why the state put her in protective care, Wadley said. Given those circumstances, he said, it is entirely predictable that something bad would happen without authorities paying close attention.

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

Mother of baby thrown onto interstate was a child herself, attorney says 07/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 11:53pm]
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