Woman Sentenced to Life for 2017 Murder
For killing an Upper Makefield man in his sleep, Jennifer Morrissey will spend the rest of her life in state prison.
Morrissey, 35, was sentenced Friday to serve a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the Aug. 6, 2017, shooting death of 64-year-old Michael McNew inside his River Road home.
“Innocent people are no longer innocent because of you, because of your selfish, deliberate decision to kill Michael McNew,” said Judge Raymond F. McHugh, alluding to a written statement from McNew’s son Patrick McNew. “What you have done to yourself you have earned.”
Morrissey, who testified in her own defense at trial, chose not to speak in court Friday prior to receiving the mandatory penalty for first-degree murder. A Bucks County jury found Morrissey guilty of the charge in early February following nearly two weeks of trial.
The jury also convicted her of returning to the scene in the hours after the killing and tampering with evidence, as well as possession of an instrument of crime.
At trial, jurors heard evidence that Morrissey had threatened McNew several times during text message exchanges in the hours leading to his murder. The pair had been in a relationship, according to testimony, but their relationship had recently soured and McNew was preparing to end his financial support for Morrissey after several years.
McNew was found by a coworker two days after his killing, seated in his favorite chair, dead of a single gunshot wound to the face. A medical examiner told the jury McNew had been shot from a distance of no more than one inch.
Morrissey explained McNew’s killing alternately as unintentional and as an act of self defense. On cross examination, Morrissey refused to admit she pulled the trigger.
As Deputy District Attorney Christopher W. Rees explained in his closing argument, the evidence presented – including photographs of the scene – belied Morrissey’s claims she and McNew struggled over the murder weapon.
That Morrissey entered the house and shot McNew at point-blank range while he slept was the only conclusion supported by the facts, Rees said.
“The work that the Upper Makefield Police and the Bucks County Detectives did in investigating this case was inspiring,” said Rees, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Kristin McElroy. “The only thing that could perhaps be considered more inspiring was the strength of Mr. McNew’s family and the verdict the jury returned.”
Contact: Christopher W. Rees, 215.348.6341, firstname.lastname@example.org