WORCESTER, Mass. (WPRI) — A Blackstone woman at the center of a shocking case will remain behind bars for at least another year.
Erika Murray, 36, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester County Superior Court to a term of 6-8 years at the women’s facility in Chicopee plus five years of probation. She’s already served nearly five years in prison and will get credit for time served.
Murray was also ordered to undergo mental health treatment and have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 10 once she’s released.
Watch in Full: Erika Murray sentencing
“She’ll be parole-eligible, I’m guessing, in about a year. I suspect that she will be seen as a very low risk in terms of parole eligibility,” Murray’s defense attorney, Keith Halpern, said outside court.
Murray was arrested and charged after the skeletal remains of three infants were found hidden in a closet inside her home in 2014. In addition, she and her surviving children were found to be living in squalor in the trash-strewn, vermin-infested home, which has since been demolished.
Following a two-week bench trial, Kenton-Walker found Murray guilty of assault and battery causing injury to a child and animal cruelty last month but acquitted her of murder and reckless endangerment.
The judge ruled the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Murray was responsible for the babies’ deaths.
Murray was, however, convicted of assault against her two youngest children, then aged 3 and 5 years old, who investigators said were kept hidden away from the world their entire lives.
Kenton-Walker said the guidelines for sentencing on the charges were inappropriate, and Murray’s mental state weighed heavily on her decision.
“I cannot punish her as some might want me to for the fact that the remains of three babies were found in the closet,” she said.
“I was hoping that she would be walking out with me and I’m disappointed that she’s not,” Halpern said Thursday.
Halpern said there’s never been a case with these circumstances, so he and his client were unsure what to expect for the sentence. Throughout the trial, he maintained that Murray was mentally unstable and not able to recognize the consequences of her actions.
“She didn’t intend to do it and she didn’t recognize that it was being done, but I don’t think you can look at what happened to these kids and not say it’s not a serious offense,” Halperin said. “I think the challenge here is—how do you factor in her mental illness?”
Halpern said Murray’s state of mind has improved significantly since she was separated from her boyfriend Raymond Rivera, who fathered all seven children. He’ll be tried separately from Murray.