Jeremiah William Monell took the stand on Thursday in Cumberland County, New Jersey. He’s not the murder defendant of the same name charged with killing estranged wife Tara O’Shea-Watson. He’s the 14-year-old boy who said he witnessed his father strangle his mom and stab her to death.
He spoke about what life was like leading up to the day his mother died, what it was like to see it happen and what occurred in the immediate aftermath.
The younger Monell, who sometimes went by the nickname “Miah,” testified that he lived with his 7-year-old sister and O’Shea-Watson after his dad moved out April 4, 2016. By his own account, the couple never had that much to say to each other. Miah said he sometimes went to the park with his father, but they never really talked. Instead, dad would ask him questions about mom. The younger Monell testified that he was truly “friends” with O’Shea-Watson.
He said the murder happened December of that year, when he was 12 years old. His father was at the residence fixing mom’s car in the driveway. Miah’s mother and his sister returned home, and his dad went inside the house to sit on the couch.
Miah testified that the his father spent some with his sister, and then moved to Miah’s room to rest there “for a little while.” They didn’t say anything to each other. Miah went to sleep, but woke up to find his father peeking through the curtains and watching O’Shea-Watson (the teen’s room didn’t have a door leading into the kitchen). This went on for about six to seven minutes.
The elder Monell left the room and Miah heard a loud thump, according to testimony. His mother screamed in pain, and the witness claimed to see his father standing over her, choking her for “a minute, maybe less.”
According to Miah, the defendant got up, and mom said, “Let me die in peace.” Instead, the defendant grabbed a knife from a block on the top of the fridge. Miah testified that he didn’t see his father grab the blade, but heard the sound of the knife against wood.
The elder Monell then began stabbing O’Shea-Watson, according to this testimony,
“I looked away,” Miah said. He testified that he went to bed and cried. After the murder, his father smoked a cigarette and later told him, “You should not have seen that,” according to testimony.
Miah said he cried himself to sleep, then woke up in the morning to find his mother in the kitchen covered by a blanket. He testified that he couldn’t call authorities during and after the murder because his Android phone was “dead,” and he lacked access to a charger.
He then put his pants on, grabbed his shoes, and picked up his sister, who was then 5-years-old. She still had on her pink pajamas, and he carried her because she didn’t have any shoes on. Miah said they went to the home of “Aunt” Crystal Greer, one of their mother’s close friends. From there, Greer’s husband and another person checked the scene of the murder, and called 911.
The elder Monell was arrested after a two-week manhunt. The defense argues that he wasn’t responsible for killing O’Shea Watson.
Friends of the victim told media outlets that the defendant abused her, got an order of protection against him, and planned on moving to Tennessee.
“It was living hell,” Jen L. Messeck said, according to NJ.com. “He beat her. She was constantly on the run from him. She wanted nothing more than to get out of here.”
[Image via Law&Crime screengrab]