FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Jury deliberations are set to begin on Wednesday in the murder case against a New Jersey man accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was still strapped into her car seat.
Arthur Morgan III’s lawyer described him Tuesday as a loving father who snapped under pressure, and asked a jury to let him go free in as little as five years.
Prosecutors, however, called Morgan, who is accused of killing Tierra Morgan-Glover in Nov. 2011, a cold-blooded killer who knew exactly what he was doing as he hurled the defenseless toddler to a horrific — and not instantaneous — death.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr. said there’s more than enough evidence to convict Morgan and denied a defense motion Tuesday to dismiss murder and other charges against him.
The 29-year-old could get life in prison without parole if convicted of “knowing and purposeful” murder.
But conviction on a lesser manslaughter charge could see him go free in as little as five years.
His lawyer told the jury at the start of the case the issue is not whether Morgan is guilty, but what crime he committed.
Morgan, of Eatontown is charged with murder, child endangerment and interference with custody in the death of Morgan-Glover.
Prosecutors said Morgan killed her during a court-approved visit by attaching a tire iron to her car seat to weigh it down before throwing it into a creek from an overpass in Wall Township.
Prosecutors allege Morgan killed the little girl in a jealous rage after the child’s mother, Imani Benton, broke off their engagement. Killing Morgan-Glover was the most severe way he could get even with Benton, prosecutors said.
The cause of death was determined to be homicidal violence, including submersion in water. An autopsy determined that she was alive when she hit the water.
Morgan fled to California following the child’s death, and was found there by a fugitive recovery task force.
Morgan declined to testify in the case, and his defense rested without presenting any witnesses.
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