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Morgan maintains innocence in wife’s murder

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This file photo shows Arthur Morgan Jr. at his sentencing, Feb. 20, 2009.
August 9, 2018 11:15 pm

HUDSON — Angela Morgan’s body was found wrapped in a blanket hidden beneath her mobile home in April 2008.

More than 10 years later, her husband, Arthur Morgan Jr., 47, maintains his innocence.

Arthur was sentenced Feb. 20, 2009, to serve 25 years to life for second-degree murder, but he said he wasn’t home at the time of his wife’s death and doesn’t know how his wife ended up entombed.

Arthur’s conviction was overturned in April 2017 after the state Court of Appeals ruled he was improperly prevented from testifying.

A new autopsy report may change the case. The report, commissioned by Arthur’s family and his attorney, contends Angela had enough cocaine in her system to die from an overdose.

“That report exonerates me,” Arthur said July 16 from behind a glass partition during an interview at the Columbia County Jail. “The DA should admit they were wrong.”

Dr. Zhongxue Hua, a forensic pathologist from New York City, published the new autopsy report April 16.

Angela’s substance abuse was inappropriately addressed, according to the report.

“Angela had autopsy evidence of a recent and fatal crack cocaine intoxication,” according to the report.

“I was retained by the defense for this case,” Hua said Tuesday. “The case is pending in the courts and I cannot discuss it at this time.”

The latest autopsy could refute the postmortem done in 2008 by Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard at St. Peter’s Bender Laboratory in Albany.

Angela was found to have multiple, extensive, fresh bruises on her skin and mouth, which were believed to be inflicted before death, according to the original autopsy report published April 10, 2008.

A chemical agent found in Angela’s system suggested she had recently used cocaine when she died, but the drug was not detected in her system, according to Hubbard’s report.

“The autopsy revealed numerous severe injuries, including extensive bruising and brain damage,” according to Hubbard’s report. “However, none of these injuries is life-threatening. Because of the circumstance in which the remains were discovered, and the presence of extensive trauma, the death is certified as a homicide.”

Arthur and Angela used crack cocaine together, Arthur said in jail, but added they never blacked out or overdosed before.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

Columbia County Sheriff’s investigators found Angela Morgan’s body April 9, 2008, beneath a mobile home where the couple lived at 5659 Route 9H, Claverack. Angela was 27 years old at the time of her death.

Police were investigating a missing person’s report filed by Angela’s mother, Lorrie DeLyser, when they found her daughter’s body. Two days later, Arthur Morgan was arrested and charged in his wife’s death.

Arthur last saw his wife March 30 at 4 a.m., he said last month from jail.

That night, he said, he and Angela argued about someone she was having an affair with while Arthur was in jail for drug possession and violating an order of protection that barred him from seeing her.

A Columbia County Family Court judge issued the order of protection March 16, 2007, on Angela’s behalf following abuse allegations. Angela took the stand in the case and testified Arthur never hit her, he said, adding Angela slipped and fell on ice, which caused bruising on her face.

Angela denied she had an affair while Arthur was in jail in 2007, he said.

Columbia County Sheriff’s investigators questioned Arthur on April 8, 2008 — three days before his April 11 arrest in connection with Angela’s death.

“I left because we had an argument and I learned it’s best to walk away than to let things keep festering,” Arthur said, according to a transcript of the interview with police.

Arthur told investigators his wife was sleeping in underwear and a T-shirt when he left the house after their fight, and that he walked to Franklin Street to visit his brother in Hudson.

Arthur returned home several hours later and said Angela was gone. He told police he noticed she took a blanket and pillow with her, but left her pocketbook on the kitchen counter. Angela left everything else behind, Arthur said, including her clothes and makeup.

FIRE AND ICE

Arthur spent eight months in jail in 2007 and 2008 on a drug possession charge and for violating the order of protection that prevented him from seeing Angela. Arthur was released from jail about six weeks before his wife’s death, he said.

The Morgans had a child who was removed from their custody in Family Court on March 13, 2007, according to court documents. Arthur said in jail last month that the baby was taken from them because of the couple’s drug use.

Angela talked about them breaking up several times during the relationship, Arthur said.

“She always said we were like fire and ice a lot of the time,” he recalled.

After the discovery

Police interviewed Arthur again April 9, 2008 — the day Angela was found.

“We found — we think we found your wife,” Columbia County Sheriff’s Senior Investigator Kevin Skype said during the interview.

Investigators showed Arthur a photo of Angela’s face, which was taken after she was found under their mobile home

“I mean, it looks like it could be her,” Arthur replied. “I hope it’s not her.”

Arthur found his wife’s address book, he told police, and discovered a name and phone number had been whited out. He scratched off the white coating to find the name Jeff Knott — the name of the man Arthur claims had an affair with Angela.

“And at the end, you know, I’m pretty mad about this situation and she didn’t really want to answer any of my questions,” Arthur said during his April 9 interview with police. “She gets real quiet about it and I get pissed off at that.”

Arthur moved out of the mobile home days after Angela’s murder because the landlord kicked him out, he said at the jail last month.

Arthur’s brother, John Morgan, testified during Arthur’s first trial in December 2008. During his testimony, John said he asked his brother on April 9, 2008, if he had killed Angela. Arthur said he did not.

John testified he and his brother discussed what happened with Angela, and said Arthur described how he had no choice in where he placed the body.

“If he dug a hole the police would see fresh dirt,” John said his brother told him, adding Arthur said if he burned the trailer down, authorities would find the body.

“I never said that to my brother,” Arthur said at the jail, adding John was lying.

Arthur has not spoken to his brother since his incarceration.

John also testified his vehicle had been wired with an audio recording device by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office during a third conversation with his brother April 11, 2008. During that conversation, Arthur denied killing his wife.

A PLEA DEAL

Arthur said he was offered a plea deal for second-degree manslaughter. He wants to plead guilty to serve a lighter prison sentence for the murder conviction, he said, but struggles with admitting to a crime he says he did not commit.

“I am 90 percent leaning towards taking the deal, but 10 percent of me is still struggling,” Morgan said in jail last month. “I want the truth to come out.”

The district attorney’s office denies offering Arthur a plea deal, Columbia County DA Paul Czajka said. The district attorney’s office does not offer plea deals for cases where defendants are indicted by a grand jury, he said.

“We do not plea-bargain indictments and certainly did not offer a plea bargain in this case,” Czajka said.

Czajka declined to discuss specifics of the case, saying his office’s policy is not to discuss proof before a trial.

Arthur wants Angela’s parents to know their daughter didn’t die a violent death the way district attorney’s office officials claimed during his original trial in 2008.

A NEW TRIAL

Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek set Arthur’s new trial date for Jan. 28, Chief Assistant District Attorney James Carlucci said. Carlucci is the prosecutor.

Bryan Rounds, of Rounds and Rounds law firm in Kingston, will represent Morgan in his new trial.

Arthur hopes information will be brought to light in the new trial that did not come out in the original, he said.

Arthur maintains, as he did in a 2009 interview with the Register-Star, it is possible two drug dealers — known only as Prince and King of New York City — might have been involved in his wife’s homicide.

It’s possible, too, that one of Angela’s boyfriends might have been with her when she died, Arthur said.

“I have no idea who was with her,” he added. “Only God knows.”

Shahzad Amir, an employee of Lucky Mart on Seventh Street, claimed to have seen Angela on April 7, 2008. She was with a white man standing by a white pickup truck next to a pay phone, according to police reports.

Angela entered the Lucky Mart and bought a glass pipe with a rose in it, according to police.

Another witness claimed to have seen Angela walking out of the Walmart in Greenport toward the parking lot days after her death. The witness did not see the woman’s face completely, but saw enough to identify her, according to police records.

Police found a handprint and DNA where Angela was found that presented a mystery, Arthur said in jail.

At the first trial, Lisa McNabb, a forensic scientist for the state police crime lab in Albany, testified some DNA at the scene couldn’t be identified, according to Register-Star archives.

Arthur’s parents continue to support him, his mother, Janet Morgan said.

“I knew that Artie wasn’t the type of person to do it,” Janet said. “My husband and I have always been on Artie’s side and we have believed him.

“I do feel sorry for Angela’s family,” Janet continued. “It is a tragic thing to lose a child. I lost Artie, but I didn’t lose him — not in the way that Angela’s family did. They’ll never see their daughter again.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.