A Pennsylvania exotic dancer on trial for murder allegedly shot her wealthy 64-year-old lover in the face after he dumped her, effectively ending her high-flying lifestyle, according to prosecutors.
Jennifer Morrisey, 34, faced the first day of testimony Thursday in her trial for allegedly killing her “sugar daddy” Michael McNew, who was shot dead in August 2017 at his Washington Crossing home,the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The relationship between Jennifer Lynn Morrissey, a 33-year-old motorcycle mechanic with a checkered criminal past who has been charged with murder, and Michael McNew, three decades older at 64, a father and grandfather, was unconventional, but one but initially appeared to work for the pair.
According to prosecutors, Morrisey moved into McNew’s home outside Trenton, N.J. in 2015. For nearly two years, he bought her presents, paid her bills and even covered any court fees from previous legal woes.
She referred to him as her “sugar daddy,” NBC 10 reported.
But eventually the relationship soured. When McNew tried to end it, Morrisey killed him, prosecutors said.
In August 2017, McNew was found dead at his home with a bullet in his head. Morrisey was charged with criminal homicide.
Jennifer Morrisey [L-R], has been charged with shooting 64-year-old live in pharmacy executive Michael McNew
Prosecutors argued in opening statements that Morrisey was “taken care of” by the pharmaceutical executive, but the relationship started heading south after four years together.
The pair, who met at a strip club where Morrisey worked, reportedly argued via text messages in the hours leading up to McNew’s death. In the messages, McNew threatened to shoot his lover and in turn, Morrisey said she would “gut” him like she was “field dressing a deer,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“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,” Assistant District Attorney Kristin McElroy told the court. “But he didn’t deserve to die because of it.”
Police said Morrisey staged the death to look like a burglary gone awry and even buried McNew’s cellphone and laptop computer in her current boyfriend’s backyard. She also messaged McNew on Facebook after he died to make it look like she didn’t know what happened.
To allegedly remove any gun residue from her hands, her boyfriend urinated on her hands, prosecutors said.
Morrisey maintains the shooting death was accidental – a result of what her lawyer called a “kill or be killed” moment, NBC 10 reported.
“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 at a two-hour preliminary hearing on Monday.
Her texting records, however, show a different story, officials said.
According to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, Morrisey sent threatening messages to McNew on Aug. 6 when he told her he was boxing up belongings she’d left at his house and that she was not welcome back in his home.
“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,” one of the texts read, the DA office said. “I’m gonna stab ya.”
McNew’s body was found Aug. 8 in his Washington Crossing home. An autopsy determined that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
“I don’t believe she’s a victim,” the prosecutor said in court at the time.
The prosecution said they believe she shot McNew between the eyes then fled the house, only to return hours later to stage the crime scene as a robbery.
“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,” McElroy told the court, according to the newspaper.
The shooting took place at Michael McNew’s water front home in Bucks County, PA home where the pair had been living
The defense team, however, claim the pair struggled over the firearm when Morrisey returned to pick up some belongings and the shooting was accidental. Her attorney, S. Philip Steinberg, said Morrisey entered “panic mode” after the shooting because she didn’t think authorities would believe her version of events.
“She does everything she possibly can to make this justified shooting look justified,” Steinberg said, “because she thought no one would believe her.”
Morrisey is being tried for murder, burglary, possession of instruments of crime and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.