A North Ogden teenager accused of killing his 3-month-old daughter will get another trial date after a 2nd District judge allowed the defendant to withdraw his no-contest plea because negotiations with the state Board of Pardons were unclear to him.
Robert B. Morgan, 18, asked for a motion to withdraw the plea and Judge David Roth Friday granted his request because Roth said the defendant misunderstood the plea negotiations.On Jan. 14, Morgan was scheduled to go to trial but instead entered a no contest plea to a 2nd degree murder charge for the Oct. 10 killing of his daughter. In exchange, the state agreed to recommend to the pardons board that Morgan serve no more than five years in prison and he be placed in a Youth Offenders Program.
Morgan told Roth that he understood the sentence was binding on the board, and when he learned that the board might reject the state's recommendation, he decided to withdraw his plea.
A new trial date will be set on March 20, and Morgan will now stand trial on the first-degree felony charge in the death of Ashlee B. Morgan. If convicted, Morgan could be sentenced to from five years to life in prison.
The baby died from internal bleeding after Morgan allegedly punched her in the stomach, lacerating her liver. Autopsy reports also showed that the 12-pound baby suffered a skull fracture, bruising on the cheeks and nose and five broken ribs.
After testimony from several witnesses last week, Roth concluded that Morgan didn't realize that a five-year prison term in exchange for his plea was not binding on the pardons board.