A North Buffalo mother accused of fatally stabbing and choking her 7-year-old son last May in their apartment and then telling police she was saving him from going to hell has pleaded not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.
Jessica L. Murphy, 30, entered the plea Monday in front of State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns in satisfaction of an indictment charging her with second-degree murder.
The judge ordered her to undergo examination by two psychiatrists with the state Mental Health Department in the next 30 days to determine whether she is dangerously mentally ill.
After the exam, the judge will hold a hearing on the psychiatrists’ findings. If Murphy is found to be dangerously mentally ill, the judge will place her in the custody of the Mental Health Department for treatment, subject to periodic reports on her mental health.
Assistant District Attorney Paul E. Bonanno said the prosecution agreed to the plea after two psychiatrists – one for the defense and one for the prosecution – examined Murphy.
He said both found that she suffers from bipolar disorder and couldn’t appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions when she killed her son, Jacob T. Noe, early May 14 in their second-floor apartment on Lovering Avenue, where she lived with her mother and other relatives.
The prosecutor said she has been hospitalized for treatment for bipolar disorder four times since 2012.
Bonanno said Murphy repeatedly stabbed and choked her son in the bedroom, severing his aortic artery. He died after being rushed to Women & Children’s Hospital.
Bonanno said Murphy’s brother ran to the bedroom and saw her with a knife standing over her bleeding son.
When police arrived, Bonanno said, she told them she had to kill Jacob to save him from going to hell. Bonanno said she later admitted to homicide detectives that she killed her son to save him.
As the prosecutor outlined the case, Murphy began crying.
Her attorney, David R. Addelman, told the judge that there had been past bipolar disorder episodes when Murphy tried to protect her son.
Just two months before the fatal attack, he said, she took Jacob to a Buffalo police station and asked them to protect him.
He said she was then taken to Erie County Medical Center for mental health treatment and that her son was placed with his father, who did not live with Murphy.
After she was released and her son was returned to the North Buffalo apartment, Addelman said, she felt she had no other alternative but to kill her son to save him from an eternity of pain and suffering in hell.
“There was no evil intent,” he said. “She killed her son because she thought she was saving him.”
Addelman said Murphy has been receiving psychiatric care since her arrest and now realizes that what she did was wrong, though she did not realize it was wrong at the time of the attack.
“She will have to live with the grief of losing her only child” as a result of her actions, he said.
Outside the courtroom, Addelman said Murphy was a very loving mother who was not prone to anger and had not harmed her son before the May 14 attack.
At the time Murphy was charged, a relative said there had been discussions about Jacob moving in with family members in West Seneca, but it never happened.