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San Diego

December 17, 1987

A judge Wednesday refused to dismiss a murder charge against a San Diego man charged with beating to death a 6-year-old girl.

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday against John Phillip Moncrief, 31, and his attorney, C. Logan McKechnie, asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Terry O'Rourke to dismiss the charge and substitute a manslaughter charge.

Moncrief is accused of killing Amber Avey, the daughter of his former girlfriend, Linda Williams, on Feb. 21, 1986. The body was found in a shallow grave near the San Diego River on Sept. 22, 1986.

McKechnie argued that it was inappropriate for the jury to consider a murder charge because no evidence of premeditation had been offered. But the judge disagreed, saying there was evidence to support a guilty verdict for first-degree murder.

O'Rourke recalled the testimony of Williams, who quoted a remark Moncrief was alleged to have said during the fatal beating of the girl. "By the time I get done with her, she'll need CPR," Williams quoted Moncrief during her testimony last week.

The girl had 26 fractures of her ribs and 4 pelvic fractures, according to the autopsy.

The jury was excused for the holiday season Wednesday. The defense will open its case Jan. 5.

Williams told authorities about the killing almost seven months after it happened. She testified that she was too afraid to report it and feared no one would believe her.

She told authorities only after Moncrief was arrested in August, 1986, at a campground where he had allegedly beaten her.

The defense contends that Williams accidentally ran over her daughter, a claim she has denied.

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