Pa. wife sentenced in bigamist murder

August 13, 2008 12:05:59 PM PDT
An American woman was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for killing her bigamist husband as he was set to travel to Africa to impregnate his second Muslim wife. Myra Morton, 48, tearfully apologized to the mother of victim Jereleigh Morton during the sentencing hearing.

She had pleaded guilty in April to third-degree murder for fatally shooting her husband of 25 years as he slept in their Blue Bell home. When he was slain last August, he was about to fly to Morocco to impregnate his younger second wife.

Myra Morton initially blamed the killing on an intruder, but her attorneys later acknowledged that the crime was intentional. They said the killing stemmed from the damaged psyche of a humiliated, middle-aged woman.

Jereleigh Morton had met a Moroccan woman on the Internet in late 2006 and soon arranged to marry her.

The Mortons had converted to Islam about 20 years ago and, in keeping with Muslim custom, Myra Morton traveled to Morocco to bless his March 2007 marriage to 37-year-old Zahra Toural.

But police say Myra Morton grew to resent the arrangement, at least in part because her husband was sending Toural $3,000 a month.

Morton hit her breaking point hours before her spouse was to board a flight to Morocco to impregnate his younger bride.

In emotional testimony on Wednesday, the victim's mother, Delzora Morton, said Myra Morton did not have to resort to violence.

"Why couldn't you just leave him? Why did you take my son away from me?" Delzora Morton said. "All you had to do was walk away from him, like I told you so many times."

Speaking to the judge, Delzora Morton said, "I just want her to apologize to me now."

Then Myra Morton, through tears, said, "I'm sorry" from her seat in court. She later apologized again from the stand.

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