Erika Murray trial: UMass doctor says 3-year-old was 'remarkably frightened'

Erika Murray trial: UMass doctor says 3-year-old was 'remarkably frightened'

WORCESTER, Mass. — In the second week of the Erika Murray trial, the judge heard from a University of Massachusetts Memorial hospital doctor who treated one of Murray’s children after her arrest.

That doctor says Murray’s 3-year-old appeared to be extremely neglected, but in a heated rebuttal, Murray’s attorney pushed back — saying the 3-year-old simply had autism. Still, the doctor says the child’s appearance and behavior were deeply disturbing.

Dr. Heather Forkey says when she first examined Murray’s daughter, she showed extreme signs of neglect.

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"She didn’t present the way a normal 3-year-old child would present. She was, from a social standpoint, remarkably frightened by anything that we did," Dr. Forkey said. "When approached -- or any noises were made -- she would close herself up and fold her body down."

Murray’s attorney tried to prove the child's unusual behavior wasn’t from neglect, but because she suffered from autism.

"But they don’t close themselves up the same way she did," Forkey countered.

She says the child’s muscles were weak and lab test results show she was malnourished. She said the 5-month-old also had unusual muscle movement but did show signs of less neglect than her older sister.

The defense also called a witness who testified babies found dead in the apartment were not necessarily murdered.

"A baby can be born with an infection or a baby can be born with lungs or hearts that don't function as well, but many times we don’t find a specific reason it just happens without any specific cause," Dr. Grunebaum said.

Dr. Amos Grunebaum testified factors such as at home births, a dirty birthing environment and hiding a pregnancy can result in early neonatal death. But he agreed with prosecutors who said if the infants weren’t neglected they could have survived.