An Australian man convinced his wife to kill herself so that he could use the $1.4 million in insurance payouts to build a church and a commune for the rapture.
A jury recently concluded that 69-year-old Graham Robert Morant, who wanted to serve as the pastor of the church he would build with the ill-gotten insurance funds, is responsible for the death of his wife, Jennifer Morant. The jury found that Jennifer wouldn’t have committed suicide if not for pressure from her husband.
Jennifer Morant lived with chronic back pain, and found even the most simple every day tasks difficult, but did not have a terminal illness.
Her husband persuaded her to take her life over several months by telling her the funds would go towards a commune that would provide a haven from the biblical rapture, where he would be pastor.
He told police she wanted to die but two witnesses close to her testified she did not want to kill herself and was scared by his pressure on her to do so.
“I had such a zest and zeal to live. She had such a zest and zeal to die,” Graham Morant told police in an interview.
Her best friend, Johanna Cornelia Dent, said Jennifer Morant felt the only way to escape death was to win the lottery.
Morant even justified the act of suicide to his wife by claiming God would be totally OK with it.
Graham Morant told his wife her suicide would not be a sin in God’s eyes because of the financial benefit to their church, her sister, Lynette Anne Lucas, told the jury. He said she would be too weak to survive the rapture, Lucas testified.
The jury deliberated for a day and a half before reaching its verdict on Tuesday. Members of the public gallery burst into tears after the verdict was handed down.
The jury may have convicted Morant, but the judge has left open the possibility that his sentence might be suspended either completely or in part because he wasn’t considered public risk and hadn’t breached the conditions of his bail.
I hope the judge doesn’t do that, though. Morant deserves punishment for what he did — and depriving him of that could send a green light to others who may be similarly deluded in the name of religion and selfishness. The sentencing phase will begin soon.
(Screenshot via 9News. Thanks to Joseph for the link)