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Verdict: Man convicted of first-degree murder in fatal stabbing of ex-girlfriend at Abington train station

NORRISTOWN – A Philadelphia man stared blankly and then bowed his head as a jury convicted him of charges he intentionally killed his ex-girlfriend during a brutal knife attack at the Meadowbrook Train Station in Abington.

Morgan McCaffery

Gilbert Newton III, 19, was convicted in Montgomery County Court on Wednesday of charges of first-degree murder, which is an intentional killing, and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the 8:15 a.m. July 27, 2020, fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Morgan Darlyn McCaffery as the pair met at a secluded parking lot at the train station to discuss their relationship. The jury deliberated more than two hours before reaching the verdict.

Judge William R. Carpenter immediately sentenced Newton to life imprisonment, the mandatory term under state law for the first-degree murder conviction.

Newton, of the 8500 block of Ferndale Street in Philadelphia, looked downward and did not respond to reporters’ questions as he was escorted from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies to begin serving the life term.

“I think that the jury got it right. The evidence that we presented showed that when Gilbert Newton went to the train station that day to meet Morgan his only intention was to kill her,” Assistant District Attorney Kathleen McLaughlin reacted after the trial.

McLaughlin and co-prosecutor Gabrielle Hughes argued Newton, angry that McCaffery had ended their relationship, had formed the specific intent to kill McCaffery, pointing to evidence that he took two knives from his kitchen to the meeting and lured the young woman to the secluded location.

“If he couldn’t have her, nobody could. The defendant intentionally used the deadly weapons on vital parts of her body,” McLaughlin argued during her closing statement to jurors, adding that a day before the killing Newton saw a photo posted on social media of McCaffery with another man. “That’s when he set out his plan to kill her.”

An autopsy determined McCaffery sustained “at least 30 stab and slash wounds” and her death was ruled a homicide. McCaffery sustained wounds to her face, neck, abdomen and back and several defensive-type wounds on her arms and hands.

Prosecutors said that in the days leading up to the killing Newton expressed threatening and homicidal thoughts in numerous text messages sent to the victim and others.

“I honestly hope u (sic) die at this point. Like I just wanna (sic) stab u in the neck continuously,” Newton wrote to McCaffery in a June 20, 2020, text message, according to testimony.

The text messages revealed that Newton became increasingly upset that McCaffery was ending their relationship.

In text messages he wrote to his mother, with whom he discussed his relationship with McCaffery, Newton wrote, “I wanna stab this girl in the (expletive) neck, dude” and “I’m really gonna (expletive) kill her dude. I will stab her 57 times,” according to testimony.

In another text message to his mother a day before the alleged killing, Newton wrote, “She better come back or I’ll cut her head off,” according to testimony.

Defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. argued that Newton was suicidal after the couple’s breakup and that he didn’t intend to kill McCaffery. Peruto, describing Newton as a “distraught, emotional and immature kid,” argued for a conviction of third-degree murder, which is a killing committed with malice, and carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

“This is a good kid,” Peruto argued to the jury during his closing statement. “He’s a kid. He’s acting under emotion, the strain of his own mental problems and his own state of mind. With his immaturity, with his character, with his state of mind, he didn’t go there to kill her. Look at the mental burden this defendant was operating under.”

The jury rejected the third-degree murder charge.

Peruto did not comment to reporters after the verdict.

When Newton stepped into the witness box on Tuesday he claimed he met up with McCaffery “to see if she cared about me” and to find out if she was seeing another man. Newton also claimed he took the knives with him because he intended to kill himself in view of McCaffery.

Newton claimed that when McCaffery told him that she had moved on with someone else he called her a derogatory name and claimed she responded by slapping him and spitting at him. Newton claimed he then began stabbing McCaffery, claiming “there was a lot of emotion and a lot of things going through my head.”

Newton claimed he didn’t plan to kill McCaffery.

The investigation began when Abington police responded to the train station parking lot at Lindsay Lane and Mill Road for a report of a disturbance and found McCaffery lying in the parking lot, covered in blood, according to a criminal complaint filed by county Detective William Mitchell and Abington Detective Donald Lindenmuth.

“The officers observed apparent stab or cutting wounds to the woman’s stomach and neck, as well as scrapes to her arms,” Mitchell and Lindenmuth wrote in the arrest affidavit, adding McCaffery was lying on her back in the parking lot near her vehicle, a Toyota RAV4.

“The car was running and there was a large bloodstained Ginsu knife on the passenger-side floor. Under the victim’s body detectives found another Ginsu knife handle with a partial blade. The presumed remainder of the blade was on the ground between the victim and the victim’s car,” Mitchell and Lindenmuth added.

A short time later, Philadelphia police responded to a 911 call at Newton’s Ferndale Street residence where Newton’s mother “told them her son was covered in blood and had said that he had hurt his girlfriend,” according to the criminal complaint.

Police, according to court papers, observed Newton sitting on a couch, “blood on his pants, hands and t-shirt.” Authorities also observed blood on the outside of the driver’s side door of the white Jeep vehicle allegedly operated by Newton at the time of the attack, according to the arrest affidavit.

Newton allegedly confessed to police that he had stabbed McCaffery and officers observed that he had wounds to his hands, specifically a cut to his right hand.

During the investigation, friends of McCaffery told detectives that the young woman and Newton ended their year-long relationship about a month before the fatal attack. One friend told detectives that McCaffery had contacted her after the breakup and claimed that Newton had “threatened her and she was scared for her safety,” Mitchell and Lindenmuth alleged in court papers.


Source: Berkshire mont

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