Days before jury selection begins, prosecutors are fighting to keep Gregory Graf from using his mental state to defend himself against charges he murdered his stepdaughter, then recorded himself having sex with her corpse.
The five-day search for Jessica Padgett, a mother of three and newlywed from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, came to a stunning end the day before Thanksgiving last year when investigators found her body in a shallow grave on the property where Graf lived with Padgett’s mother.
District Attorney John Morganelli is asking the judge to prohibit any expert testimony during the trial from a psychologist the defense hired to evaluate Graf.
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The defense missed a deadline to disclose the findings of their psychiatric evaluation. Without that information, Morganelli argued, he’s left with little time to determine if he needs his own expert to mentally evaluate Graf.
Attorney Jack McMahon is expected to use Graf’s mental state to defend him when the Allentown man’s trial gets underway Nov. 2.
"We can’t be surprised on the eve of the trial," Morganelli told The Morning Call.
Padgett, 33, was last seen Nov. 21 when she left her job at a day care to run an errand and went to Graf's place to fax some papers. Graf, 54, admitted to shooting Jessica in his home, according to Morganelli. After violating her corpse, prosecutors allege Graf buried Padgett's body behind a shed in his yard.
While she was missing, Jessica’s family and friends set up a "Help Find Jessica Padgett" page on Facebook. More than 8,000 people joined the group and have since helped raise more than $20,000 to help support Padgett’s children.
A hearing on Morganelli’s petition is scheduled for Oct. 30.