A Messy House Leads to Child Abuse Charges?

November 6, 2015 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Macomb County Child Abuse Charges

On October 15th, 2013, 11-month-old Trinity Murphy swallowed a 60 mg morphine pill she found in her parent’s house, and died of a morphine overdose. As a result 42-year-old Harold Murphy and 38-year-old Kimberly Murphy, the toddler’s parents, are facing child abuse charges. The grounds for the charge is allegedly their messy house, which the prosecution claims is what led to the child having access to prescription pills.

The morphine pill belonged to Trinity’s grandmother, who had died of cancer earlier in the year, while living with the family.  According to the prosecution, Trinity had access to the pill because the house was so unkempt. The family had multiple prior interactions with CPS, during which time agency workers noted that the house was “filthy”.

When police arrived on the scene, they found the home “in disarray,” and with an illegal electrical hook-up. As a result of Trinity’s death, the couple lost their parental rights to their other four children, all of whom were taken by CPS. But now the question remains whether or not they will continue to face child abuse charges for Trinity’s death.

The Murphy’s attorneys have argued that there is no evidence that Trinity’s parents are responsible for providing her the morphine pill that killed her. The state of their house, they argue, has nothing to do with child abuse. But the prosecution disagrees.

According to the prosecution, by allowing their home to become so dirty, the Murphys committed an act of “recklessness” than is akin to child abuse, because it endangered their children. “The reckless act is that their house is a pigsty. It’s a reckless act because their child is dead,” Assistant Macomb Prosecutor Yasmin Poles said before the court at the most recent hearing.

Under Michigan law, second degree child abuse is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. Macomb County Circuit Court Judge James Biernat Jr. has heard all of the relevant testimony from both sides and now is considering the evidence before making a determination. He will be announcing his final decision on Thursday, November 19th.