Opening arguments began on on Thursday in a Doylestown, Pennsylvania, courtroom, where prosecutors laid out grim details on how a slain pharmaceutical executive was purposely killed by his much younger former girlfriend, while the defense argued the suspect acted in self-defense.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 34-year-old former exotic dancer, Jennifer Morrissey, is accused of killing her “sugar daddy,” 61-year-old Michael McNew. McNew, who was an executive at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, was found deceased inside his Washington Crossing home in 2017, with a gunshot wound to his face.
According to Assistant District Attorney Kristin McElroy, McNew made sure Morrissey was financially “taken care of,” but when she decided to see other people on the side, the relationship turned sour. Morrissey allegedly took revenge by shooting McNew dead, then later returning to the crime scene, where she staged it to look like a robbery.
“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 said. “But he didn’t deserve to die because of it…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. That is murder.”
Morrissey is also accused of turning to her boyfriend, Charles “Ruthless” Kulow, for help, who reportedly told her to go back to the crime scene to ensure the victim was deceased.
The suspect’s lawyer, S. Philip Steinberg, argued that although Morrissey may have shot McNew, it was out of self-defense. He claimed Morrissey, a single mother, was at “the most desperate time in her life,” battling a drug addition and working as an exotic dancer to make ends meet.
“He [McNew] charmed her, and she was ready to be charmed. He was a man of means, and offered her an opportunity to have a part of that extravagant lifestyle.”
Steinberg also said McNew became controlling over Morrissey after they began their relationship, and would go back and forth between buying her heroin, then pressuring her to stop using.
The defense attorney claimed Morrissey went to McNew’s home on the night question to pick up her belongings, but “panic mode” and “stupidity mode” set in after she accidentally shot him while struggling over a gun.
Text messages between the pair that took place hours before McNew died, painted a violent picture of Morrissey, who reportedly threatened to kill the victim if he touched her personal belongings.
According to a court affidavit, one text from Morrissey stated McNew wouldn’t “have to worry about leukemia killing you, because I will put you in the [expletive] ground myself.”
McNew, who reportedly complained to the suspect that she cared more for Kulow than him, replied, “well maybe that’s better.”
As the text messages continued, McNew reportedly went from begging Morrissey not to leave him to telling her he would put all of her belongings she left at his house into a storage unit.
In another text, Morrissey wrote “I’m gonna stab ya” and “gut you like I’m field dressing a f****** deer,” to which McNew replied he would shoot her if she showed up at his home.
“McNew further texted that Morrissey was not welcome at the home and that he would defend himself if she came into his home,” the affidavit read.
“get the gun ready cause I’m coming, I already told you that I’ll be there tonight … guess you’re just gonna have to shoot me…” Morrissey reportedly replied.
The question still remains whether Morrissey went to McNew’s home to kill him or if she truly acted in self-defense.
“What is 100 percent from all of the evidence, from every source, is that she came to the house to retrieve her belongings, a place where during the course of a day she’s invited to come back to, begged to come back to, and told that she’s loved,” Steinburg said last year. “And she’s met with Mr. McNew, who is brandishing his own weapon. But the facts of what happened when she is met by him, that will all come out at trial.”
Morrissey is facing charges of criminal homicide,possessing instruments of crime, burglary, tampering with physical evidence, and possessing instruments of crime.
[Feature Photo: Jennifer Morrissey/Facebook; Michael McNew/ Bucks County District Attorney’s Office]