Tampa, Florida - The man accused of throwing 3-month-old Emmanuel Murray from his car window on I-275 was told Wednesday morning the charges he's facing could carry the death penalty.
Richard McTear Jr. made his first appearance before a judge with his head bowed and hands crossed.
"Obviously you won't be getting out jail anytime soon," the judge told McTear through a videocast after reading a laundry list of charges including first degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse.
People who know McTear told 10 Connects on Wednesday afternoon they are still shocked after learning of the allegations he tossed a baby out of his car window.
"I've never seen that side of him. Never had he never shown that to me," said family friend Margaret Hammond.
His arrest record tells a very different story. He's previously been booked on charges of felony battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic battery and had active warrants burglary with an act of violence, battery and child abuse stemming from a March 31st incident.
10 Connects obtained a copy of a Tampa Police offense report from 2007 detailing a violent encounter between McTear Jr. and the mother of his child.
According to the report, the woman planned to meet McTear at his grandmother's apartment so she could drop off their son.
Once she got to the Temple Terrace apartment, police say McTear got inside her car, and proceeded to punch and strangle her as their 3-year-old son watched from the backseat.
The woman was able to escape to call 911 after he threatened to cut her with a steak knife. Police say McTear then took her car, with their son still inside.
One responding officer described her wounds, "Several bleeding scratches were observed on her throat. Her upper facial area was swollen, and she had bruising on the back of her arms."
The report says the woman told police, "McTear had become hostile toward her after discovering that she is dating other men."
She also told police she filed an emergency restraining order against him after he cut up her clothes and their son's during a previous fight. Police say that injunction had not been served at the time.
Two hours later the car was found on fire. The 3-year-old was recovered at a relatives house where a witness says she saw him drop off the child and leave with what appeared to be a bottle of lighter fluid.
Police arrested McTear on charges of aggravated assault, grand theft auto, battery by domestic violence strangulation, auto burglary for battery, second degree arson, and interference with custody.
It could have been a precursor of the alleged violence to come, but McTear never faced most of the charges in connection to that 2007 incident.
The State Attorney's Office tells 10 Connects the charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, domestic battery with strangulation and grand theft auto were dismissed because the victim refused to cooperate and signed a waiver to drop the charges.
The burglary charge was dropped to trespassing.
Those who know McTear say regardless of what he did, they'll stand by his side.
"I will always love you," said Margaret Hammond, "I will always love you, you are a great person. I respect you and I admire you until the day I die."