TAMPA — If she had gone to court Monday, maybe the domestic violence charge she had filed would have stuck.
If he had shown up, the judge might have noticed he was a fugitive in a felony battery case and put him in custody.
Maybe then, Richard McTear Jr. would never have gone to the home of former girlfriend Jasmine Bedwell.
Maybe her 3-month-old son, Emanuel Wesley Murray, would still be alive.
Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies say McTear, 21, attacked Bedwell and the baby, throwing her son onto the concrete, then driving off with the infant and flinging him from a car onto Interstate 275.
The child was not his son.
McTear has been accused by the women in his life of stalking, dragging and beating them unconscious, of breaking into homes and threatening murder, at least once, of a child. None of those women, including the mother of the baby who died, followed through to secure injunctions against him.
Arrested for domestic violence at age 14, McTear is now charged with first-degree murder.
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Jason Bird, a photographer with WTVT-Ch. 13, was driving to work at 4 a.m. Tuesday when he spotted something out of the corner of his eye, near the southbound lanes of I-275 at Fowler Avenue.
At first, he thought it was a baby doll, he told a reporter with his station. But it was too big to be a doll.
He pulled over and found the infant's lifeless body.
Five hours later, authorities found McTear at a home at 3803 Arlington Drive. He ran, but they arrested him.
As he entered custody, he repeated a phrase tattooed on his forearm: "It's a dirty game."
McTear is 5 feet 9, weighs 175 pounds and wears his hair in twists. His friends call him Rico. He was first arrested at age 13 for larceny, then twice at 14 on domestic violence charges.
He was arrested twice more on violent crime charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic battery by strangulation, before Tuesday's list of charges:
Burglary with a battery, felony battery, aggravated child abuse, kidnapping and, after a medical examiner's report was completed, first-degree murder.
Including charges for drug possession, burglary and child neglect, his arrests in Florida total 16.
On her profile on MySpace.com, 17-year-old Jasmine Bedwell once wrote that she loved him.
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I got a phone call and he was saying that he was coming to get his stuff, Bedwell wrote in a petition for a restraining order. And I said no. …
He pulled in and jumped out of a truck and drug me to my house. …
And started beating me.
Bedwell, a student at Kimmins Family Learning Center, was first arrested at age 11 for battery, a charge that would land her in jail seven more times. With additional charges of disorderly conduct and violation of probations, her arrests total 10.
But on April 7, she was asking the court to protect her. On her petition, she checked off the following about McTear:
He had violent tendencies, mental health problems and was armed and dangerous.
Under the category of "other," she wrote "crazy."
A restraining order would have required that he stay at least 500 feet from her home. But she didn't show up in court Monday to proceed.
At 3:15 the following morning, she called deputies. She and McTear had fought at her home at the Marbella Apartments at 12414 N 15th St., she told them. McTear attacked her and threw the baby to the concrete.
Then, she said, he took the baby and fled in a blue four-door Chevrolet Impala. His car was found abandoned an hour after Jason Bird spotted the baby.
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March 2006: He was supposed to be watching his 2-year-old son in a second-story Temple Terrace apartment when a neighbor found the boy wandering near a pond outside, a police report says.
The neighbor called police, who found McTear lying on the couch, stinking of alcohol. An officer had to shake him to wake him.
The neglect charge: dropped.
November 2007: Five days after Rekale Hill failed to appear in court for an injunction against McTear, he forced his way into her car. He punched the mother of his child, choked her and brandished a knife, a police report says. Their 3-year-old son witnessed it all.
She escaped, the police report says. He took off with the boy, but brought him back two hours later. The vehicle was found on fire.
Charges of domestic battery by strangulation, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft motor vehicle: dropped.
He was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing.
February 2008: He knocked on the front door, my room window, then went around the back of the apartment. Then, he proceeded to check back doors. One of my back doors were opened, where he entered and began cursing at me, wrote Louvena Cromartie on a petition for a restraining order.
He grabbed me and beat me unconscious.
The restraining order: denied because of incomplete paperwork.
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On Monday night, McTear had been at Via Del Rio apartments watching the NBA playoffs until 1:30 a.m. with a best friend, according to people who lived there.
The pink stucco complex on E Sligh Avenue was where McTear lived for several years before his grandmother died late last year, neighbors said.
Even after he moved away, he spent a lot of time there. On Monday, neighbors heard him celebrating after he had found a job, which was supposed to start Tuesday.
"I loved him like a son," said Margaret Hammonds, 58, a grandmother who lived in the home McTear spent a lot of time in. "Even if he did this, and he might have, I still love him."
Neighbors trusted McTear with their children. They said the death of his grandmother, who was like a mother to McTear, coupled with the murder of a cousin, left him profoundly depressed.
In February 2008, police found his cousin, Dale T. Matthews, 19, fatally shot inside a home at Louisiana Avenue and 34th Street in Tampa. He had a baby bottle on his chest, and his infant daughter, unharmed and crying, was in a bedroom.
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As deputies escorted McTear into a secured van Tuesday, a reporter asked how it felt to be called a baby killer. Then, how the death penalty sounded.
"Crazy," McTear said. He didn't do it, he said. He asked for prayers.
And as he climbed into the truck, McTear made another request.
"Tell my girl Jasmine I love her."
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354. Times staff writers Sandra Amrhein and Amy Mariani contributed to this report.