The woman accused of shooting a 64-year-old pharmaceutical executive and then staging a burglary to cover her tracks sobbed in a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, courthouse Monday afternoon as new details emerged about the killing.
During a two-hour preliminary hearing, Jennifer Lynn Morrissey’s attorney contended that she shot Michael Dennis McNew during a “kill or be killed moment” in his Washington Crossing home in August.
"She came to her home to retrieve some belongings and struggled over a firearm and Mr. McNew unfortunately was shot and killed," Morrissey's lawyer, Phillip Steinberg, said.
But prosecutors countered that Morrissey knew exactly what she was doing.
McNew bought Morrissey presents, paid her bills and even took care of court fees from previous legal woes. Morrissey referred to him as her "sugar daddy." When McNew tried to end the relationship, Morrissey killed him, prosecutors said.
Lawyers also said Morrissey staged a burglary after shooting McNew in the face. She did not call for help while he died, and instead buried McNew's cellphone and laptop in her current boyfriend's backyard, according to investigators.
Morrissey also messaged McNew on Facebook after he died to make it look like she didn't know what had happened, police said.
Her new boyfriend allegedly urinated on Morrissey’s hand to “eliminate any gunshot residue," according to court testimony. He has not been charged with a crime.
Morrissey, 33, was charged with criminal homicide and burglary in the Aug. 6 killing of McNew, a former executive for Abbvie, a pharmaceutical company best known for developing the immunosuppressive drug Humira.
She was also charged with tampering or fabricating evidence and possessing an instrument of crime, according to court documents.
"I don't believe she's a victim," prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Chris Rees said.
McNew and Morrissey had been living together since January 2015. They were not married, but Morrissey indicated McNew was financially supporting her, investigators said.
An investigation revealed more than 90 text messages between McNew and Morrissey in the days preceding his death.
McNew texted Morrissey that he was boxing up her belongings and putting them into storage for her to pick up. He also texted that she was no longer welcome in his home and that he would “defend” himself if she came over, court records showed.
Morrissey responded with threats of violence.
In one exchange, Morrissey told McNew: “Get the gun ready cause I’m coming. I already told you that I’ll be there tonight … guess your [sic] just gonna have to shoot me,” she texted. “I’m gonna stab ya.”
McNew’s body was found Aug. 8 in his Washington Crossing home. A post-mortem examination determined that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
A friend of McNew told NBC10 that he never trusted Morrissey and wants to see justice.
Morrissey is due back in court Dec. 8.