FREEHOLD - The mother of a 2-year-old girl testified today in the trial of Arthur Morgan III, who is accused of killing their child.
The body of Tierra Morgan-Glover was found in a creek, still strapped into her child car seat. Imani Benton cried as she testified about the shock of being told her baby was dead.
Benton had broken off an engagement with Morgan prior to the child's death. She described for the court Morgan's state of mind when he picked up their daughter for a visit the day he allegedly killed her.
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"He was bad-mouthing me as far as being a bad mother and he was just irate that night," Benton says.
When Morgan failed to bring Tierra home to Lakehurst that night in November 2011, Benton called police.
Benton says she began hyperventilating when an FBI agent asked about a Hello Kitty hat her daughter had been wearing when she left hours earlier with her father to go see a movie in November of 2011.
At the hospital, Benton says she was shown a photo of the lifeless body of Tierra Morgan-Glover and had to identify her.
Benton also answered various questions about her relationship with Arthur Morgan and how he treated their daughter.
Prosecutors on Wednesday told jurors that Morgan weighed down the seat with a tire-changing jack so it would sink.
Her body was found by a group of teenagers in a creek inside Shark River Park in Wall Township. An autopsy determined that the child was alive when she hit the water.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Ryan Moriarty asked jurors to judge whether Morgan acted deliberately or recklessly as his life spiraled downward because of homelessness and other factors.
The difference determines whether Morgan spends the rest of his life in prison if convicted or becomes eligible for parole.