Witnesses detail steps W. Goshen murder defendant took

Posted: February 01, 2012

Murder defendant Morgan M. Mengel knew how to get what she wanted, and one of her longtime goals was to make her late husband "vanish," prosecution witnesses testified Wednesday.

Mengel, a 36-year-old mother of three from West Goshen, is accused of conspiring with Stephen Shappell, her 22-year-old lover, to poison her husband, Kevin Mengel Jr., 33, on June 17, 2010. When an Internet recipe for lethal nicotine mixed into the victim's Snapple failed to work fast enough, Shappell fatally bludgeoned him, police said.

Prosecutors Patrick Carmody and Deborah Ryan called several witnesses Wednesday to bolster their theory that the defendant plotted the murder, goading Shappell into doing her bidding. Defense attorney Jack McMahon has focused blame on Shappell, an employee of the Mengels' landscaping business in West Goshen Township, maintaining that his consuming passion prompted the crime.

Shappell pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to 40 to 80 years in prison. He is expected to testify against his former paramour Thursday.

Krista Young, a Coatesville woman who befriended Morgan Mengel in prison, said she became the conduit for correspondence between the codefendants after Young was paroled on a probation violation. In that correspondence, Morgan Mengel fabricated a story that she gave birth in prison to twin boys and that Shappell was the father.

Young testified that Morgan Mengel hoped to manipulate Shappell into taking the fall for her so she could raise his children. "She was using him to get her own deal," Young testified, adding that Morgan Mengel considered Shappell "a joke."

Morgan Mengel bragged that her sex appeal was such that she could make men do whatever she wanted, Young said.

McMahon challenged Young's credibility, calling her "a thief and liar who didn't follow the rules of probation."

Mike Dimeo, a longtime friend of the Mengels, testified that Morgan Mengel frequently made disparaging remarks about her husband. "She wished he was dead and gone so she could have the business and the kids," he said.

Dimeo and his girlfriend, Noelle Filiberto, both testified about an incident in Spring 2008 that disturbed them. Filiberto said she stopped at the couple's apartment and found Kevin Mengel passed out in his favorite chair. She said Morgan Mengel explained matter-of-factly that she spiked his Snapple with sleeping pills "because she didn't want to deal with him that night."

Ron Smith, another longtime friend, testified that Morgan Mengel took many lovers, including him. He said after the first of about eight of their sexual encounters, he told Kevin Mengel what had occurred and asked him to "keep her away from me."

Smith said his periodic liaisons with Morgan Mengel lasted six years, until three or four weeks before his friend's death. "It's bizarre, yes," he acknowledged.

The trial, which is before Chester County Court Judge Thomas G. Gavin, will continue Thursday.

Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3815 or kbrady@phillynews.com.

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