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Closing arguments set for trial in death of Kutztown University student

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 29 2014 04:36:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 05:26:05 PM CDT

Closing arguments are slated to begin Wednesday morning in the murder trial of a man accused of causing his ex-girlfriend's death after an assault at Kutztown University.

READING, Pa. -

Closing arguments are slated to begin Wednesday morning in the murder trial of a man accused of causing his ex-girlfriend's death after an assault at Kutztown University.

Both the prosecution and defense rested Tuesday in the Michael Morrone murder trial in Berks County.

Morrone, of Marlton, New Jersey, closed his eyes as graphic images of a bloody Christine McGhee were shown in court.

A forensic pathologist testified a brain injury from December 2008 directly led to McGhee's death. He also told the court the sophomore at Kutztown University sustained a broken jaw before she was thrown from a moving truck.   

Morrone said his ex-girlfriend tried to choke him minutes before she flew off his truck's running board outside her campus dorm.

A retired corporal with the Pennsylvania State Police read aloud Morrone's statement to police the day he was arrested.

"I asked her to get out of the truck and she wouldn't. I pushed her out and she landed on her butt. She came back in and asked for her phone to dial 911," said Morrone.

Morrone told police McGhee was emotional and wouldn't listen so he threw her phone and bag out the window. Then, he said he used his body weight to push her out again and sped off.

Seventy-four pages of text messages revealed McGhee invited Morrone to campus. The two were seen arguing at a party and Morrone drove her home because she was drunk.

He texted her early that morning after the incident, "I just want to know if [you're] OK. Just say 'yes' or 'no' and I'll leave you alone." 

McGhee, of Warminster, Bucks County, was left in a vegetative state for more than three years. She died in March 2012.

Morrone's attorney called only one witness, Morrone's sister, who told the court her brother was never in trouble with the law.

Morrone was set to testify in his own defense, but his attorney said it wasn't necessary because he felt prosecutors did not prove this is a case of murder.

Morrone is on trial for third degree murder. He was convicted of aggravated assault before McGhee died. He is already serving a five-to-20-year sentence.