An exotic dancer shot her “sugar daddy” boyfriend between the eyes after the 64-year-old pharmaceutical sales manager dumped her and planned to cut her off financially, prosecutors say.
In the opening statements of Jennifer Morrisey’s trial Thursday, Bucks County Assistant District Attorney Kristin McElroy painted the picture of a disgruntled lover who had been “taken care of” by a wealthy older man and become accustomed to the lavish lifestyle he provided for her.
But when the relationship began to sour and Michael McNew, a divorced grandfather, decided to end the relationship and kick Morrisey out of the house they had once shared together, prosecutors believe Morrisey decided to take matters into her own hands, according to a statement from their office.
“You don’t have to like the fact that there is a big age difference, and you don’t have to approve of the type of relationship they had,” McElroy told the jurors Thursday according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “But he didn’t deserve to die because of it.”
The prosecution contends that after a series of contentious messages between the pair in which Morrisey texted McNew that she planned to “gut you like I’m field dressing a [expletive] deer,” Morrisey drove to McNew’s house, shot him in the face and then later returned to stage the crime scene to look like a burglary after conferring with her motorcycle gang boyfriend.
“The crime scene, the forensic evidence, and actions of the defendant all point to one thing: She went there, she pointed a deadly weapon at him, and she shot him once between the eyes," McElroy said according to the paper. "That is murder.”
Morrisey’s defense attorney, S. Philip Steinberg, doesn’t deny that the 34-year-old shot McNew but said she was acting in self-defense after McNew brandished a gun during an argument between the two.
Text messages between the show also showed McNew had also texted with Morrisey prior to his death telling her she “was not welcome at the home and that he would defend himself if she came into his home,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in an earlier article.
Steinberg claims the two met when Morrisey was in a “desperate time of her life” as a single mother with a heroin addiction who was working as an exotic dancer.
“He charmed her, and she was ready to be charmed,” Steinberg told the jury. “He was a man of means, and offered her an opportunity to have a part of that extravagant lifestyle.”
But after the pair began a relationship, Steinberg says McNew became possessive and controlling. He said that while McNew would help pay for his much younger girlfriend’s misdemeanor drug and driving offenses, he would only pay in monthly installments so that she each month she’d be at his mercy for more money, the paper reports.
He contends that at times McNew even encouraged her drug habit by “buying dope for her.”
He said his client, who had started to date other men during the pair’s relationship, panicked after the fatal shooting and went into “ultimately stupidity mode” by returning to the scene.
“She does everything she possibly can to make this justified shooting look justified,” Steinberg said, “because she thought no one would believe her.”
McElroy disputes that the shooting was in self-defense and pointed to alleged conversations she had with cellmates about the death of her "sugar daddy", offering a differing view of events each time.
“Her story went from ‘I did something’ to ‘I killed someone who abused children’ to ‘It was a struggle with a gun and it was an accident’ to, finally, self-defense,” McElroy said according to the paper. “I understand these women aren’t angels ... but I submit their testimony as true, because it corroborates what the defendant told them and what evidence was found at the scene.”
In the statement from the district attorney’s office after charges were filed, prosecutors claimed Morrisey staged the scene by stealing the gun used in the shooting, stealing his phone and laptop computer and turning McNew’s pockets inside out.
On Thursday, Mary Ann Stockley, a coworker of McNew’s a AbbVie Pharmaceuticals also took the stand to describe how she and her daughter discovered McNew’s body. She told the jury she had been asked to check on him after his manager hadn’t heard from him and discovered McNew sitting upright in his recliner on the second floor of his house. She said it appeared as though he was “staring out at the [Delaware] River.”
[Photo: Bucks County District Attorney’s Office]
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