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Deadly Child Abuse Case Linked To 'Reckless Act' Of Messy House

MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ/AP) - A judge is considering whether a metro Detroit couple whose 11-month-old daughter died after eating a morphine pill that authorities say may have been dropped on the floor of an unkempt home should continue to face child-abuse charges.

According to prosecutors, Harold Murphy, 42, and Kimberly Murphy, 38, were reckless in maintaining an extremely messy house that allowed their daughter, Trinity, to ingest the pill in October 2013, The Macomb Daily reported.

"The reckless act is that their house is a pigsty," Yasmin Poles, an assistant Macomb County prosecutor, argued in court Wednesday. "It's a reckless act because their child is dead. They were supposed to make sure the child was not given access to the room where the grandmother died."

The Murphys are charged with second-degree child abuse, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Trinity's grandmother, who had lived in the Sterling Heights house, died of cancer about two weeks before the child found her pill. Kimberly Murphy told police it was "very likely" her mother had dropped the pill on the floor where Trinity later found it.

Attorneys for the Murphys told Macomb County Circuit Court Judge James Biernat Jr. that no one knows how the child got the pill. Nijad Mehenna, attorney for Kimberly Murphy, said pills were found in a container on a closet shelf several feet off the floor.

"There is no testimony anybody observed anybody giving Trinity that pill or saw Trinity Murphy consume that pill," Mehenna said. "If the pills were anywhere within reach of an 11-month-old child, that's a reckless act. ... We don't have that whatsoever in this particular case."

Biernat is expected to announce his decision Nov. 19.

After Trinity's death, police found the home in disarray and with an illegal electrical hookup, the newspaper said. The couple lost their parental rights of their four other children following a trial before different judge. That decision has been appealed.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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