Monday, August 18, 2008

Pennsylvania woman sentenced to 8 to 20 years for 3rd degree murder of husband

Montgomery County, PA Judge William R. Carpenter sentenced a 48 year old grandmother to 8 to 20 years in prison Wednesday August 13 for the 3rd degree murder of her husband, who she had married for 27 years before his death.

The sentence came after a guilty plea in April to the shooting death of Jereleigh Morton by his wife, Myra of August 5, 2007 at their Whitpain Township house. He was to meet a Moroccan woman he had taken as a 2nd wife and get her pregnant in Morocco so he could father a son.

The hearing capped a bizarre family saga with complex issues, including religion, polygamy, a family fortune and Internet dating.

The family fortune came about from a malpractice settlement with the hospital where their 13 year old daughter died in 2001. Prosecutors said that the millions from the settlement were part of the motive for the man’s death.

The Mortons' 27-year marriage began to fall apart last year after Jereleigh Morton told his wife that he was taking a second wife, in accordance with Muslim law, in order to have a son.
Myra Morton, then 47, could no longer have children.

The former handyman had met a young Muslim woman from Morocco on the Internet and married her. His American wife had initially consented and even attended the Moroccan wedding, but arguments ensued.

He was on his way back into the arms of his Moroccan wife - the trip timed to her ovulation - when Myra Morton "snapped," defense attorney Tim Woodward said.

"The last thing she sees before she goes to bed that night are the gifts that her husband was bringing to his wife in Morocco," he said.

Jereleigh Morton's relatives spoke before the sentencing, with his brother Darryl recounting how Jereleigh became the head of their household after their father died.

"When my father died, he took over the family. He was showing me how to be a man."

Delzora Morton, Jereleigh’s mother, recounted how Myra betrayed her by killing her son, and asked for an apology. While sobbing on the witness stand, Delzora cried while looking at her daughter-in-law, "I'll never be the same…Why did you take my son away? Why, why?"

Delzora alluded to the history of abuse by her son against Myra, which along with childhood abuse, played a part in limiting the sentence to 8 - 20 years.

"I loved you. All you had to do was walk away like I told you so many times. You didn't have to take him away from me. Can you say, 'Mom, I'm sorry?' Can you say it?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen," Morton, who is Muslim and was covered from head to toe, said in a barely audible voice.

When Myra Morton finally spoke, she apologized again and said she didn't remember what happened on the night of the shooting. But she also struck a defiant tone.

"I put my whole heart into the marriage. I begged him not to marry another woman. . . . It tore my heart apart to share him with another woman," she said. "This was never about money."
She loved her husband very much, she said, "but this was something I could not deal with."

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