By Calvin Palmer
A Florida man has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a three-month-old child whose body was found near an interstate highway this morning.
Richard A. McTear, Jr, 21, of Tampa, was taken into custody several hours after the body of his ex-girlfriend’s son was found near Interstate 275 north of downtown Tampa at 4:30 a.m.
He was also charged with burglary with a battery, felony battery, aggravated child abuse and kidnapping.
Police allege McTear was arguing with his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend, Jasmine Bedwell, at her apartment when he began beating her and the child. Deputies said McTear is not the child’s father.
Bedwell reported that McTear threw her son, Emanuel Wesley Murray, down on the concrete, then picked him up and fled in his Chevrolet Impala.
The body of the baby was spotted by Jason Bird, a news photographer for WTVT-TV in Tampa, as he was on his way to work.
“On the side of the road, I saw something out of the corner of my eye and at first I thought it was a baby doll, and then as I was thinking about it more I thought that was awfully big for a doll,” Bird said.
He turned around and went back to take another look.
“It was laying there with its eyes open,” he said. “I couldn’t look at it. It freaked me out, but fortunately law enforcement came right away.”
Deputies believe the body was thrown from a car on to the shoulder of the highway.
“It’s hard to find words to describe why someone would do this to a poor, defenseless child,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Maj Harold Winsett said.
Deputies located McTear’s car at his home. A resident who had seen the news coverage contacted Tampa police and said McTear might be hiding in the Robles Park area.
Officers went to a house on Stratford Ave and McTear ran out. Deputies gave chase and found him hiding in a backyard in Arlington Ave. He did not resist arrest.
“It’s a dirty game,” McTear said as he was led from a patrol car to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office headquarters. “It’s a dirty game.”
McTear has previously been arrested on charges including felony battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic battery by strangulation.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, McTear was sentenced to two years probation in June 2008 on a felony battery conviction. An arrest warrant was issued when he failed to report.
Last month, Bedwell sought an injunction against himfor domestic violence, but the case was dropped because she didn’t appear in court.
In court papers, Bedwell said McTear was violent, often armed and had a drug problem. She said he had forced his way into her apartment and beat her.