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A Windsor Township man is facing a possible prison sentence of life without parole if convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Rebekah Strausbaugh, last year.

Michael Anthony Morant, 49, was in York County Court on Monday for his formal court arraignment.

He is now charged with first- and third-degree murder, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

In Pennsylvania, adults convicted of first-degree murder are automatically sentenced to life without parole, while third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Plea agreement? But defense attorney Seamus Dubbs said he's hopeful the case won't go to trial.

"As we informed the court, we'll hopefully come to a nontrial disposition prior to (Morant's) October pretrial conference," the attorney said. That is set for Oct. 12, according to court records.

Dubbs confirmed there had been prior discussions in Maryland regarding a plea agreement when Morant was charged there, and that is still the plan now.

"That seems to be the direction," he said.

The background: Morant, of the 200 block of Cambridge Drive in Windsor Township. is accused of strangling Strausbaugh last year during a domestic argument.

Her body was found close to Interstate 83 in Sparks, Baltimore County, on June 27, 2016, according to police.

Morant initially was charged in Maryland with her homicide, but the case was moved to York County Court in April.

Chief deputy prosecutor Dave Sunday has said the decision was made jointly between the York County District Attorney's Office and the Maryland State Attorney's Office.

What Morant said: Morant told police he found Strausbaugh at a restaurant in Baltimore and that the two argued on the ride back to Pennsylvania.

Morant claimed he pulled off I-83 in Sparks and said they both got out of the car and continued to argue, according to police.

The argument turned physical, "resulting in injuries to Strausbaugh that left her unresponsive," Baltimore County Police wrote in a news release. "When Strausbaugh did not respond to Morant, he (dragged) her body into the woods and covered her with a blanket."

Killed at home? But charging documents filed against Morant in York County in April, after his criminal case was transferred here, tell a different story.

Those documents allege Strausbaugh was about to break up with Morant and that on the night of June 24, 2016, neighbors saw her return home and have a heated argument with Morant in front of their house.

That was the last time she was seen alive, and she was wearing workout clothing, documents state.

Same clothing: Her body, found a few days later, was clad in the same clothing and was shoeless, according to York Area Regional Police.

Police allege Morant killed Strausbaugh in their home, then drove her body to Maryland and dumped it.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

 

 

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