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, agreed Thursday to return to his home state to stand trial.
Arthur Morgan III was arrested at an apartment complex in San Diego on Tuesday, ending a nationwide manhunt a week after authorities said he killed Tierra Morgan-Glover, whose body was found partly submerged in a park in Wall Township, N.J.
An expressionless Morgan walked into a hearing Thursday in San Diego and immediately signed papers waiving his right to contest extradition. If he had fought his extradition, it could have delayed his return by as much as 120 days.
The judge ordered him to be returned by Dec. 21 to New Jersey, where his bail was set at $10 million. Deputy District Attorney Sylvia Tenorio said Morgan will likely return before then but she said the exact date will not be made public for security reasons.
He is charged with murder, interstate flight to avoid prosecution and child custody offenses.
Child welfare authorities in New Jersey said 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 said 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, N.J. 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, said 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.
Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Lakehurst, N.J., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.