Michael Morrone finally faced justice this week for the death of his ex-girlfriend, Christine McGhee, who perished in 2012 after three years in a vegetative state because he shoved her out of his pickup truck then sped away, leaving her mortally injured.
Morrone’s defense lawyers said that the now-26-year-old Marlton, New Jersey, man did not mean to kill McGhee and he proved it by trying to call her the next day, out of concern for her welfare. But a jury in Berks County, Pennsylvania, found Michael Morrone guilty on Wednesday of third-degree murder and sentenced him to prison for a minimum of eight years and a maximum of 20.
Morrone has already served four years of that sentence after he was convicted of aggravated assault in 2010. That sentence was five to 20 years.
But after remaining in a vegetative state at her parents house for about three years, Christine McGhee passed away on March 18, 2012 at age 23. Prosecutors then sought a murder charge against Morrone.
On December 5, 2008, McGhee was a sophomore at Kutztown University when she called Morrone, then her ex-boyfriend, to pick her up from a party at the school and drive her to her dormitory because she was intoxicated. Tests showed that her blood alcohol level was 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal definition of intoxication.
But the pair began arguing and Morrone pushed McGhee out of his truck. She suffered a broken jaw at that time. Prosecutor Jonathan H. Kurland said that Michael Morrone was angry because McGhee refused to have sex with him.
But McGhee tried to get back in the vehicle, jumping on the pickup’s running board. Morrone then sped away, hurling McGhee to the pavement causing the terrible injuries that eventually led to her death.
Morrone’s Philadelphia-based defense lawyer, Charles Peruto said that the prosecution never proved that Michael Morrone knew the young woman was on his running board, which would mean that Morrone did not kill her “with malice,” reducing the charge to involuntary manslaughter.
Kurland argued just the opposite, saying that because Morrone broke McGhee’s jaw before she fell, he clearly acted with malice.
“He left this person (McGhee) lying on the macadam bleeding with no phone,” the prosecutor argued. “This shows a wicked disposition. He left the scene of an injured person.”
But Peruto said that Morrone had no criminal history and there was no record of violence in the relationship.
“The commonwealth did not prove that a person with good character automatically became a killer,” he said.
Morrone, who did not testify in the trial, spoke before the sentencing.
“I really wish I handled things differently that night,” Michael Morrone said, with the McGhee family present in court. “I really want to apologize to Christine’s family and also to my family.”