Parties re-examine Murray case
Medical examiner to be deposed for 4-year-old's cause of death
Parties in the case of Jade Murray re-examined the case on Wednesday, as Stone County Judge Alan Blankenship this week ordered additional discovery to be performed in the case.
According to CaseNet documents, a hearing on Sept. 28 was canceled and the case was reset for a case management conference with counsel at the Stone County courthouse, where Blankenship said no plea was to be taken.
After the Wednesday conference, Blankenship ordered additional discovery in the case, specifically, deposing the medical examiner as to the cause of death of 4-year-old Skylar Bradley.
Murray, 23, of Aurora, is facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree domestic assault after the death of her son. Don Trotter, Lawrence County prosecutor, had offered a plea deal to drop the murder charge and have Murray plead guilty to the assault, which would have given her five years in prison, granted her credit for time served, and made her eligible for parole.
Trotter said that deal is not entirely off the table, but the future is uncertain until the discovery is completed.
"The judge did not reject the plea deal, and it wasn't just him, but both sides that wanted to get more discovery in the case," he said. "We are deposing the medical examiner, and the judge wants to pin him down and make sure we know exactly what he's going to say."
Protests at the Barry County and Stone County judicial centers sparked increased interest in the case and the proposed plea deal. Trotter said he is in contact with Bradley's family members concerning what's going on with the case.
"I spoke to them and explained what we are trying to achieve, and they fully understood and are on board," he said. "We want to see what happens with the evidence. This is the last piece of the puzzle, and when we get that evidence, I will speak with [Bradley's family] again."
After being bonded over to circuit court in Lawrence County, Monett attorney Pamela Musgrave, representing Murray, filed for transfer of venue in November 2014. The case was then transferred to Barry County and the courtroom of Judge Robert Foulke.
The court denied a motion to suppress in March, and the case was set for a jury trial on Aug. 10. That trial was stricken on July 20 and reset to Sept. 21.
The possible plea hearing, negating the trial, was then scheduled for Sept. 25, but on Sept. 23, Foulke recused himself from the case to avoid the appearance of impropriety, according to CaseNet documents. The case was transferred to Blankenship.
Murray has allegedly admitted to police that she struck her son on his rear and back area and then began to strike him a second time, but he turned away, which allegedly prompted her to lose her temper. She said she then struck him again, harder than she should have, and about one hour later, Bradley appeared ill and refused to eat.
She took him to Mercy Hospital in Aurora, where she reportedly lied to doctors and police about what happened. Bradley is believed to have died due to complications from a ruptured spleen, according to the autopsy.
Murray remains in the Lawrence County Jail with bond set at $250,000.