New Jersey resident, 29-year-old Arthur Morgan III was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday for the murder of his 2-year-old daughter—who he strapped to a weighted-down car seat and dumped into a creek.
According to Monmouth County District Attorney spokesman Charles Webster, Morgan was also given an additional five years for interference with his custody arrangement, Reuters reports.
"The way things stand right now, Mr. Morgan will never see the outside of a prison wall," Webster stated.
Morgan committed the heinous crime in November 2011 during a court-approved visit with Tierra Morgan-Glover, his toddler daughter.
On that fateful day he told Tierra’s mother that he was taking the child to see a movie. Instead, Morgan, wanting to allegedly punish his ex for ending their relationship, drove to the overpass and threw his daughter into the water.
According to prosecutor Marc LeMieux, his intentions were to rob Imani Benton of “the one precious thing in her life,” the Associated Press writes.
The toddler’s body was found submerged in a stream two days later by a group of teens about 39 miles east of Trenton, New Jersey in a park in Wall Township.
When Tierra hit the freezing water, she was still alive – her car seat secured with a heavy tire jack, prosecutors relayed.
"You'd be candidate No. 1 for its imposition [speaking of the repealed death penalty]," Judge Anthony Mellaci told Morgan as he handed down the sentence. "Your actions were horrific, unthinkable and appalling."
"This child was alive when she was placed in the water in pitch darkness, and had to suffer the unthinkable action of having water rush in and fill her lungs while strapped into that car seat," said the Monmouth County Supreme Court Judge. "This child suffered before she died."
During his trial, Morgan apologized to Benton, pleading forgiveness for the ended relationship. "I want to say I'm sorry for the deterioration of what I thought was a beautiful friendship between the two of us that blossomed into a daughter," he told Benton, according to The Associated Press.
And when asked to explain his actions, Morgan insisted that until the drowning he was a good father who had dedicated his life to keeping Tierra safe.
“As a father, my job was to provide and protect,” he said. “All my actions prior to this were to make sure Tierra was safe and Imani was comfortable.”
A heart-broken Benton wants nothing to do with him. "I don't understand why she was taken from me," she said. "It does give me peace to know that she is in Heaven with God, and (Morgan) will pay for what he did to her, to me and to everyone else. No good will come to him."
According to District Attorney spokesman Charles Webster, Morgan will most likely serve his sentence at one of New Jersey’s three maximum-security prisons. The 29-year-old’s public defender attorney was not available for comment when Reuters reached out on Wednesday.
Ravelle Worthington is a writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ravmo.