MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll, First Assistant Prosecutor Maggie Calderwood, and Chief of Detectives Robert McNally confirmed a jury has found Edwin Urbina, 29, formerly of Morristown, guilty on all charges related to the beating death of his girlfriend’s three-year-old son, Liam Christian.
Following a seven-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on March 1, 2023. The defendant was found guilty of first-degree Murder with an Aggravating Factor, three counts of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, third-degree Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, two counts of third-degree Tampering with a Witness, and fourth-degree Tampering with Evidence. The sentencing has been scheduled before the Honorable Stephen J. Taylor, P.J.Cr., on March 16, 2023. The defendant will remain in custody until that time.
On August 13, 2021, shortly after 5:00 a.m., officers from the Morristown Police Department responded to the Morristown Medical Center in Morristown on a report of a three-year-old boy in cardiac arrest. A subsequent investigation revealed that Liam Christian had sustained a number of physical injuries. Following an autopsy, Morris County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Carlos Fonseca, M.D., determined the manner of death to be a homicide.
The investigation revealed that Urbina fatally beat the child in the early morning of August 13, resulting in the boy’s death, while at the OYO Hotel, 130 Route 10 West in East Hanover. The investigation further revealed that the victim’s five-year-old sibling witnessed the murder. Further investigation revealed that the victim’s mother, Krystal Straw, 29, was absent during the assault but arrived at the hotel shortly thereafter. Following the victim’s death, both Urbina and Straw acted to hinder the State’s investigation, including removing Urbina and his personal belongings from the OYO Hotel, deleting cell phone content, and informing the victim’s five-year-old sibling not to speak about the incident.
The investigation also revealed that Urbina had physically abused the victim on prior occasions.
On August 17, 2021, Urbina was taken into custody without incident outside the Morris County Records and Administration Building in Morristown. Straw was previously charged and arrested on August 13 concerning this incident. Both Urbina and Straw remained in the Morris County Correctional Facility during the pendency of their criminal cases.
On January 12, 2023, Straw, 29, appeared before Judge Taylor and entered an open plea of guilty to two counts of second-degree Endangering Welfare of a Child, three counts of third-degree Hindering Apprehension, third-degree Tampering with a Witness, and fourth-degree Tampering with Physical Evidence. Straw will remain in custody until her sentencing hearing, also scheduled before Judge Taylor on March 16, 2023.
Prosecutor Carroll would like to thank and acknowledge the agencies that participated in the investigation that led to the successful guilty verdict, the exhaustive efforts of the East Hanover Police Department, the Morristown Police Department, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office, and various Units in the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in working together to investigate this incident leading to the guilty verdict. The Prosecutor would also like to thank Assistant Prosecutor Tara Wang and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Sandler, who tried this case in court, and MCPO Detective Matthew Belcastro and East Hanover Det. Lt. Andrew Underwood for their outstanding efforts in the prosecution of this case.