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Abuse inquiry launched after slaying

Andrew Morales was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Andrew Morales was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / October 5, 2011

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The state’s child protection agency is investigating allegations of abuse at the Leominster home where, police say, a teenager killed his brother Sunday.

There were an unspecified number of children at the family’s home when an altercation broke out between Andrew Morales, 18, and his brother Richard, 22, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families said yesterday.

The dispute between the brothers turned violent, and police say Andrew Morales stabbed his brother in the chest with a steak knife. A short time later, Richard died of his injuries.

The agency would not provide details about the allegations or the family or say whether investigators had visited the family in the past.

“As a result of the events that took place, reports were filed concerning the children,’’ said Cayenne Isaksen, a department spokeswoman.

The children were not involved in the dispute, police said. The brothers’ father, Richard Morales Sr., could not be reached for comment. Their mother lives in Fall River.

Police said a girlfriend was also at the home at the time of the attack.

Leominister’s police chief did not return calls seeking comment yesterday on whether police had been called to that address in the past.

Andrew Morales was held without bail Monday on murder charges and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial. He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Oct. 24.

A college student who worked part time at Dunkin’ Donuts, Morales tried to save his brother after allegedly stabbing him, applying pressure to his wound and screaming for help as police rushed to the scene, authorities said.

When a police officer asked him if he knew who attacked his brother, Morales allegedly said “Yes, I did it,’’ police said.

The lawyer for Morales, Leonard J. Staples, said Morales has no prior criminal record, history of mental illness, or problems with substance abuse. The family saw no signs of strife between the brothers, he said.

Morales is distraught over the attack and “feels like his life is over,’’ Staples said.

Morales told police he was arguing with his brother in his bedroom and that his brother “would not leave him alone nor leave his room.’’

The argument escalated, and Richard Morales hit his brother with a laptop computer, police said. Andrew Morales retaliated, police said, by stabbing his brother’s chest above his heart.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.