A 22-year-old Chester County landscaper pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree murder in the 2010 killing of his boss, and now plans to testify against his co-defendant, the murdered man's wife.
Stephen Shappell pleaded guilty as part of an agreement negotiated between his defense attorney, Thomas Wagner, and Chester County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Carmody. If Shappell testifies against 36-year-old Morgan Marie Mengel, as the agreement dictates, he will receive between 40 and 80 years in prison.
Both Shappell and Morgan Mengel had been facing life sentences for first-degree murder in the killing of 33-year-old Kevin Mengel, which prosecutors say came about as a result of an affair between the two co-defendants.
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Prosecutors allege that Shappell tried to poison Kevin Mengel by spiking his Snapple with liquid nicotine on June 17, 2010. When that plan did not appear to work, Shappell bludgeoned Mengel to death with two shovels. Morgan Mengel allegedly helped Shappell clean up after the murder, store the body in an unused garage bay at the West Goshen landscaping company, and bury the body near Marple Newtown High School.
Both Shappell and Morgan Mengel were arrested later that summer. While the two were awaiting trial, police say that Mengel wrote letters to Shappell claiming that she had given birth to his twins and she needed Shappell to accept full responsibility for the murder so she could raise them freely.
However, investigators say that Mengel was never pregant with twins, and that everything about Morgan Mengel's story, including the birth certificates she sent, was false.
Prosecutors said that the deal with Shappell was made after consulting with Kevin Mengel's family.