A judge on Wednesday ordered Arthur E. Morgan III to spend the rest of his life in prison, with no chance of being released on parole, for cutting his baby daughter’s life short at age 2½ by tossing her into a stream to die in 2011.
State law dictated that Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on Morgan for the murder of Tierra Morgan-Glover because the victim was a child — a factor that that would have qualified Morgan for execution before New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007. Speaking to Morgan, Mellaci said if New Jersey still had the death penalty, “you would be candidate No. 1.”
But the fact that the child was Morgan’s own daughter made the crime that much more unspeakable. And the way he accomplished the killing made it seem even more horrific — he strapped the child into her pink-flowered car seat, tethered a five-pound metal car jack to the seat, threw the contraption into a stream in Shark River Park in Wall and left the crying child to die in the murky water as he drove away to a liquor store.
Before the sentence, Morgan argued he had been unfairly portrayed in the media and by the court.
Mellaci was not moved, calling this one the saddest cases he has ever been involved in. “There are no mitigating factors here,” Mellaci said.
Morgan, 29, who was homeless at the time of the murder but whose last known address was in Eatontown, stood trial before Mellaci earlier this year.
The jury convicted Morgan of the intentional murder of Tierra, who lived with her mother in Lakehurst, dismissing defense attorneys’ arguments that the defendant’s judgment was clouded, and that he simply placed his child in the stream to “let God decide her fate.”
The jury also convicted Morgan of child endangerment and interfering with the baby’s custody by failing to return her to her mother on Nov. 21, 2011, the day she was murdered.
Morgan flashed a smile when the jury foreman announced the panel’s verdict on April 3. And, he winked at prosecutors as he was being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, donning one of the typically flashy suits he wore to court each day during the trial.
Source: USA Today | Kathleen Hopkins, The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press