Pa. woman admits killing bigamist husband

April 25, 2008 11:08:55 AM PDT
A woman pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree murder for killing her bigamist husband just hours before he was to leave for Morocco to visit his second wife. Myra Morton, 48, was upset about the new marriage and her husband's plans to have children with the younger woman, authorities have said. She shot her 47-year-old husband, Jereleigh Morton, twice in the head in August while he slept, and initially blamed an intruder.

She faces from five to 20 years in prison, said defense lawyer Brian McMonagle.

"I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind that the act was intentional," McMonagle said. "We have always maintained that it was based on a lot of passion, and it was caused by the emotional turmoil that she was going through."

Jereleigh Morton met his second wife, 37-year-old Zahra Toural, last year on the Internet, prosecutors said. In keeping with Muslim custom, Myra Morton traveled to Morocco to bless the marriage, but police say she grew to resent the arrangement.

Her husband allegedly said that if she didn't like it, she should get a divorce.

The Mortons had converted to Islam about 20 years ago.

As Myra Morton's resentment about the second marriage grew, she wrote the U.S. State Department a letter in April 2007 in which she said Toural had terrorist ties. She hoped the letter would keep Toural away from the U.S., authorities have said.

Toural last month responded with a defamation suit against Myra Morton.

Myra Morton spent about 20 years working at Temple University as a secretary before she and her husband received a reported $8 million medical settlement in 2005 over the death of a teenage daughter. They moved with their surviving daughter from a North Philadelphia rowhouse to a $1 million house in the suburbs.

"All she (Morton) cares about are that her daughter and her granddaughter get their inheritance, and are provided for," McMonagle said. "That is always a concern, particularly when you have so many hands reaching for this money."