This story was updated at 1:20 p.m.
MAMARONECK, N.Y. - Manuela Morgado told police responding to her home Oct. 1 that she killed her son, who struggled as he died, Det. Bernard McNally testified Wednesday during a felony hearing in Village of Mamaroneck Court.
“When asked what happened, she said, ‘no one will take him from me,’” McNally, who responded to the incident, testified Wednesday.
McNally was one of two witnesses called by the prosecution to testify. Based on that testimony, a judge ruled there is sufficient cause to hold Manuela Morgado on the murder of her 4-year-old son Jason "Jake" Reish, and send the case to a grand jury.
Morgado’s lawyer Harvey Loeb said the prosecution now has 45 days to vote on an indictment. A felony hearing is a preliminary hearing where the prosecution presents the evidence in the case to show probable cause.
Morgado, who chose to leave the court before the witnesses testified, is charged with second-degree murder. Police said they found Morgado “semi-conscious” Oct. 1 in her Mamaroneck home after a family member called 911 asking that someone check on her. The 4-year-old boy was dead when police arrived.
McNally, a 12-year detective in Mamaroneck, and Det. Edgar Prieto responded to 1030 E Boston Post Road. McNally's, whose voice quivered during some of the more sensitive testimony, said they were told there was a suicide note, and arrived at Morgado’s top-floor apartment around 10:30 a.m. Tim Reish, Jason’s father, was standing outside the apartment, but McNally said they didn’t talk to him and were directed to the child’s bedroom.
McNally said the first thing he saw when he went into the room was Morgado lying on the bed with Jason, who “looked lifeless”.
McNally said his partner Prieto asked Morgado, “what happened” in Spanish, and she answered in Spanish. He added Prieto later translated her response as, “no one will take him from me.”
McNally told the court there was a small helium tank with two tubes attached to it and masks on the other end laying near the headboard of the bed. In the bathroom, he said, the officers found Benadryl and cold medicine bottles that were open and partially used, and an empty prescription bottle for Alprazan, which he said was a version of Xanax. They also found the plastic tube of a syringe with a reddish liquid inside, McNally said.
Jason’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office that day, where doxylamine, diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan, medications found in cough suppressants, were found in his body, Dr. Virginia Richards, assistant medical examiner for the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office, said in sworn testimony Wednesday. Richards performed Jason’s autopsy, which she said isn’t complete because they are waiting for the toxicology report and microscopic analysis.
Richards said she found clear froth, a non-specific sign of respiratory depression, present in Jason’s mouth, trachea and airways. She told the court this can be caused by inhalation of gasses, as well as strangulation, drowning or overdose of narcotics or medicine.
Jason’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office that day. After about 10 minutes inside the apartment, police stretchered Morgado out and took her to Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle. McNally said he spoke to Morgado at the hospital around 3:53 p.m. for a little less than an hour. The conversation was recorded on video and a digital recorder. McNally said Morgado seemed alert, but was crying. At that time, Morgado told police she killed her son, then described how she did it, McNally said.
Morgado gave him Benadryl through the plastic tube, which she called a “nozzle syringe”, to make him sleep, said McNally, who added she told them she had looked up this method online and believed it was a “peaceful way.” When it didn’t work, she put the mask on him, McNally said.
Jason struggled, McNally said, so she took his hand and covered his mouth and nose, then put her weight on top of him and his face down into the pillow. She told McNally she “snuggled” him.
“She didn’t want anyone to take him away from her,” McNally said. “She was aggravated with the family court system.”
The case will now move to a grand jury in state court, said Loeb, who remarked he wasn't surprised by the judge's decision Wednesday.