Newtown-area District Judge Mick Petrucci ordered a 33-year-old woman to trial for the death of a 64-year-old man who cared for her.
Jennifer Lynn Morrissey, who worked as a motorcycle mechanic in Middletown, will head to the Justice Center in Doylestown to face the next step in her case, which includes charges of criminal homicide, burglary, possessing instruments of crime and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
Morrissey, according to prosecutors, was involved in the August 6 death of pharmaceutical executive Michael McNew. He was found shot in the face inside his home along the Delaware River on River Road in Upper Makefield’s Washington Crossing section.
During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors said Morrissey lived with McNew for at least two years before the two had a falling out.
On the day of the homicide, Morrissey allegedly sent a number of threatening text messages and ended up shooting him to death with a .380 caliber handgun, prosecutors said.
Court papers outlined how police obtained a search warrant for Morrissey’s two phones – an Apple iPhone and a ZTE – and recovered messages that were deleted. The August 6 messages showed an argument between McNew and Morrissey. In the statements, McNew reportedly said the 33-year-old woman was not welcome at his home, and he was putting her belongings in storage.
“Get the gun ready cause I’m coming, I already told you that I’ll be there tonight,… guess your just gonna have to shoot me,” one message said.
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Rees stated in court that McNew “was going to cut her off” and made the claim he was providing information to the FBI about her new boyfriend.
Bucks County Detective Eric Landamia testified at the hearing that Morrissey told a cellmate, while in prison on an unrelated matter, that she killed McNew accidentally and told the woman he was her “sugar daddy.” She further is alleged to have told the cellmate that the two struggled for control of McNew’s handgun and accidentally shot him while working to unload the firearm. .
The cellmate, according to Landamia’s testimony, reported Morrissey admitted to staging the scene to look like a botched robbery. The cellmate knew information about the homicide that only Morrissey could have told her.
“By her own admission, she killed this man,” Rees said. “She did so with the requisite intent to show that she murdered him.”
Other new information that came out involved two innocuous messages she sent to McNew’s Facebook. Prosecutors said the message about a doctor’s appointment and a recent doctor’s visit were in an attempt to conceal her role in the homicide.
At the time of her arrest, prosecutors noted that Morrissey’s phone data was used to determine she returned to McNew’s residence the night of August 6 and left around 1:30 a.m. August 7.
It was not immediately clear if the handgun used in the homicide had been recovered. Early in the investigation, a source told NewtownPANow.com that detectives used a dive team to search for a missing handgun that belonged to McNew.
Defense attorney S. Philip Steinberg argued Monday that the cellmate’s account “describes an accidental shooting” and not a homicide. He said McNew’s death was a “terrible, terrible tragedy.”
“Judge, people don’t try to stage the scene of self-defense,” Rees rebutted. “They try to stage the scene in a murder.”
McNew’s body was discovered on August 8 after a medical call to his River Road home.
Morrissey, the mother of a kindergarten-age son, and McNew, who had adult children, shared an interest in motorcycles.
Following the preliminary hearing, Morrissey returned to the Bucks County Correctional Facility, where she is being held without bail.