A Pennsylvania district attorney said prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing his stepdaughter, in part because a videotape of him sexually abusing her corpse corroborates his version of events.
According to Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, the disturbing video supports the story of 53-year-old Gregory R. Graf, who reportedly told police he had sex with victim Jessica Padgett after she was dead.
Under Pennsylvania law, a murder in perpetration of a felony is an aggravating factor that allows prosecutors to pursue capital charges. Rape rises to that level, but the sexual desecration of a corpse does not, as case law has established, Morganelli said.
"It is not a capital case. We've reviewed the aggravating factors," Morganelli told President Judge Stephen Baratta during a court hearing Friday morning involving Graf, his first public appearance since his arrest.
Padgett first went missing on November 1, just two months after marrying husband Mica Padgett. Five days later, her body was found buried on the property Graf and the victim's mother shared.
[Image via Northampton County Prison]