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NJ father accused of leaving toddler daughter in creek to appear in Calif. court
SAN DIEGO (AP) ' A New Jersey man accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter by leaving her in a creek still strapped into her car seat, then fleeing to California, is set to learn whether he'll be sent to stand trial in his home state.
Arthur Morgan III was arrested Tuesday in San Diego, a week after authorities say he killed Tierra Morgan-Glover, whose body was found partly submerged in a park in Wall Township, N.J. He was the subject of a nationwide manhunt before being nabbed at an apartment complex in San Diego.
He is charged with murder, interstate flight to avoid prosecution and child custody offenses. He is set to appear at an extradition hearing in San Diego on Thursday morning.
Child welfare authorities in New Jersey say they investigated the turbulent relationship between Morgan and his girlfriend, Imani Benton, four times in the past 13 months, but could not determine that abuse or neglect was occurring.
Benton's family accuses the state's child welfare agency and the court system of not doing enough to help her. The agency says it is conducting a review of its handling of the case.
The toddler's body was found Nov. 22 in Shark River Park, about 20 miles north of her home in Lakehurst. Her cause of death was listed as "homicidal violence, including submersion in water."
After fleeing New Jersey, Morgan was the subject of a coast-to-coast manhunt and had been featured on the website of "America's Most Wanted" after the child's body was found.
The U.S. Marshals Service office in San Diego got a tip from New Jersey authorities on Tuesday that Morgan might be at a home there. Marshals conducted surveillance for most of the day. Morgan was then spotted on the home's back porch and arrested without incident.
Benton's mother, Michelle Simmons, says her family is eager to see Morgan brought to justice.
"We want to know why he did what he did to that baby," she said.