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The trial begins for a Pottstown man accused of fatally shooting a Parkesburg man

Kevin Maurice Morgan of Pottstown is escorted from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 10, 2024, after jury selection for his murder trial. (Photo: Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

NORRISTOWN – A Pottstown man had specific intent to kill when he fired a single, fatal shot at an unarmed Chester County man with whom he had argued during a custody transfer in that county, a prosecutor argued to a jury.

“It was something he was thinking about in the minutes leading up to the murder. He took a loaded gun to a custody exchange with his 12-year-old daughter, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Courtney McMonagle argued during her opening statement to the jury as Kevin Maurice Morgan’s murder trial began Tuesday.

Morgan, 35, of the 500 block of May Street, is charged with first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of murder, reckless endangerment of others and child welfare in connection with the alleged incident at 7:13 p.m., which occurred on June 27 at 19:13. , 2023, fatal shooting of 38-year-old Derek Mayo of Parkesburg.

“Not only did he intend to take Derek’s life, but he also put other people’s lives at risk,” McMonagle argued, referring to the two children and two other adults who were present during the shooting. “Derek’s murder was deliberate, deliberate and premeditated. His actions speak volumes about his intentions.”

The fatal shooting occurred in the area of ​​May and Hale streets, a short distance from Morgan’s Pottstown home, when Morgan transferred custody of his 12-year-old daughter to her mother, Kelsay Love-Sheller. Mayo, who was dating Love-Sheller, was a passenger in Love-Sheller’s vehicle and a confrontation then ensued between Mayo and Morgan, according to testimony.

McMonagle, who is prosecuting the case with co-prosecutor Allison Ruth, argued that specific intent to kill, a requirement for a first-degree murder conviction, “can occur in the blink of an eye, at the snap of a finger.”

However, defense attorney John Han suggested that Morgan believed Mayo was armed and that Morgan was acting in self-defense when Mayo attacked him, stating: “Do you want some of this?” Han argued that Morgan acted “to stop Derek Mayo from harming his family,” referring to Morgan’s pregnant wife, Julise, who was also present when the baby was placed into care.

“That’s why he acted the way he did, to protect himself and his family,” Han argued to the jury during his opening statement.

Kevin Morgan is escorted from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 11, 2024, during a break in his murder trial.  (Photo: Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)
Kevin Morgan is escorted from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 11, 2024, during a break in his murder trial. (Photo: Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

Han suggested that prosecutors are “cherry-picking evidence” and only telling “half the story.” Han claimed that Mayo had threatened and attacked Morgan in the past and that Mayo was not allowed to be alone with the 12-year-old daughter Morgan shared with Love-Sheller. Han argued that Morgan was surprised to see that Mayo accompanied Love-Sheller during the custody exchange.

Han explained that Morgan had a permit to legally carry a firearm and had carried it since he experienced a “traumatic, horrific event” in January 2012 when he witnessed the fatal shooting of a childhood friend after a night at a West Chester bar. Morgan, who testified as a prosecution witness against the man convicted of the murder in a Chester County courtroom, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and lived in fear that “someone would hurt him,” Han argued.

“He lives in a world of fear. Kevin arms himself with a gun every day, wherever he goes, because of what happened 10 years ago. This was his ritual and this was his custom,” Han told the jury of six men and six women.

Kevin Maurice Morgan, accused of shooting a Parkesburg man, is escorted by sheriff's deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 10, 2024, while awaiting the resumption of his murder trial.  (Photo: Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)
Kevin Maurice Morgan, accused of shooting a Parkesburg man, is escorted by sheriff’s deputies from a Montgomery County courtroom on June 10, 2024, while awaiting the resumption of his murder trial. (Photo: Carl Hessler Jr. – MediaNews Group)

The hearing before Judge William R. Carpenter is expected to last several days.

A conviction for first-degree murder, or intentional homicide, carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

A conviction for third-degree murder, manslaughter committed with malice or hardness of heart, cruelty or recklessness of consequence carries a maximum penalty of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Morgan’s 12-year-old daughter testified that her father accompanied her to her mother’s vehicle to hand her over to child care, and when she entered the backseat of Love-Sheller’s car, she heard Morgan make offensive comments, asking why Love-Sheller Sheller brought Mayo to the hospital. transfer of care.

“My dad started arguing with Derek and my mom,” the girl testified, occasionally using a tissue to wipe tears from her eyes.

The girl testified that after Love-Sheller moved the vehicle forward, Mayo told her to “pull over” and she saw Mayo get out of the front passenger seat and walk toward the rear of the vehicle. The girl testified that she did not see the shooting. But the girl burst into tears as she recalled Mayo screaming that he had been shot.

Jurors also watched a videotape of the girl’s interrogation by social workers the day after the shooting, which is consistent with testimony given Tuesday.

Photo by Kevin Morgan

Courtesy of Montgomery County

Kevin Morgan (booking photo courtesy of the Montgomery County District Attorney)

The investigation began at approximately 7:13 p.m. on June 27 when Pottstown police responded to a report of a shooting at 500 May Street. Love-Sheller called 911 and reported that her boyfriend, Mayo, had been shot, according to a complaint filed by District Detective James Lavin and Pottstown Detective Adrian Stead.

Arriving officers found Mayo lying in the roadway on Hale Street, south of May Street, between the curb and the passenger side of the Kia Optima, “with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest,” Lavin and Stead wrote in the criminal complaint.

Police noted that Mayo “was not armed with any type of weapon.”

Love-Sheller approached police at the scene, pointed to Morgan’s home on May Street and said, “My dad just shot him, he’s in this house,” according to the complaint.

Morgan complied with police commands and left the residence, and when he was asked, “Where is the gun?” According to the arrest affidavit, Morgan replied, “At home.” Morgan also told police there were children at the residence.

During an initial search of the home, police found two semi-automatic handguns in a second-floor bedroom.

After obtaining a search warrant, police found a total of six guns in the home, including five semi-automatic ones, according to the probable cause affidavit. One of them, a Taurus G2C, was found with an empty bullet in the barrel, and police believe it is the murder weapon, according to court documents.

Court documents say Morgan’s wife, Julise, told police her husband “possesses multiple firearms and regularly carries them on his person.” Police stated that all weapons found by police were legally owned by Morgan.

Court documents show that Morgan allegedly made several statements to the officers who first arrived on the scene that it was “self-defense.”

Mayo was taken to Pottstown Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined Mayo’s cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the chest, and the death was ruled a homicide.

The investigation revealed that Mayo arrived at the scene in a Kia Optima driven by Love-Sheller, his girlfriend of seven years, who had arrived at the Morgan residence to pick up her daughter, with whom she shared custody with Morgan, court documents state.

According to the arrest affidavit, Morgan and his daughter approached Love-Sheller’s vehicle and engaged in a verbal argument with Mayo, who exited the vehicle.

Detectives say that during a verbal argument, Morgan pulled out a gun and shot Mayo.

A witness to the shooting told detectives that, according to court documents, the victim made no movement during the argument that would have warranted “such a reaction from the shooter.”