Defense: Stepfather 'snapped,' killed mom of 3, abused corpse

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

EASTON, Pa. -- The attorney representing an eastern Pennsylvania man accused of killing his stepdaughter and sexually abusing her corpse says his client committed the crimes, but he shouldn't be convicted of premeditated murder.

Fifty-four-year-old Gregory Graf is charged in Northampton County in the shooting death of 33-year-old Jessica Padgett, who was last seen in November 2014.

Graf was arrested five days later after police found her body buried behind a shed on the property where he lived with Padgett's mother. Prosecutors said a video on his computer shows him abusing her corpse.

As Graf dabbed his eyes with a tissue, defense attorney John McMahon Jr. told jurors Tuesday that "something snapped" in his client's mind.

District Attorney John Morganelli said Graf planned the crime beforehand and tried to "cover his tracks" afterward.

PHOTOS: Jessica Padgett murder case

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Pictured: Jessica Padgett

Padgett went missing on November 21, 2014.

Police say Padgett arrived at Duck Duck Goose daycare, where she worked, at 8:30 a.m. with her 2-year-old son.

She left in the early afternoon, telling co-workers she needed to use a fax machine at her stepfather's business 'Distinctive Fencing.' It's located next to the home he shares with Padgett's mother.

Her son remained at the daycare.

Authorities say Graf confessed to shooting his stepdaughter of 20 years in the back of the head, burying her body behind a shed and moving her car away from the scene.

Her vehicle, a white Subaru Outback, was later recovered outside a Dollar General store in Northampton Borough.

Police say Graf is an avid hunter and used one of his guns in the crime.

Padgett was married just a few months before she died.

Investigators expect to learn more details about Padgett's death once an autopsy report is complete.