NORRISTOWN, Penn. – A Muslim woman pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree murder for killing her bigamist husband in August, hours before he was to leave for Morocco to visit his new, second wife.
Myra Morton, 48, was upset about the marriage and her husband's plans to have children with the younger woman, authorities say. She admitted shooting her husband Jereleigh Morton, 47, twice in the head while he slept, and initially blamed an intruder.
She faces from five to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced, defense lawyer Brian McMonagle said.
"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."
The Mortons converted to Islam about 20 years ago. Jereleigh Morton met his second wife, 37-year-old Zahra Toural, last year on the Internet, prosecutors said. Myra Morton traveled to Morocco to meet Toural and bless the marriage, but police say she grew to resent the arrangement.
As her resentment 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 United States, authorities have said.
Toural last month filed a defamation suit against Myra Morton.
Her husband allegedly said that if she didn't like the fact that he was getting a second wife, she should get a divorce.
Myra Morton's defense attorney had previously painted a picture of a woman already grieving from the earlier death of her teenage daughter, hurt when her husband's affections drifted to his new wife, and angry that money from an insurance settlement the Mortons received after their daughter's death may have gone to Toural.
Morton and her husband received a reported $8 million medical settlement in 2005 over the death of their daughter. The couple also has a married daughter.
"It's tough for her day-to-day, reliving the event and realizing in one day she took the life of a guy that she loved, and took away her liberty," McMonagle said.
"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."