08/16/2011 01:17 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2011

Suspect in Missouri child killing makes first court appearance

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - A Missouri man was accused on Tuesday of murder in the death of a three-year-old girl he allegedly suffocated with a plastic bag and tossed off a highway bridge in the same bag.

Shawn Morgan, 43, made his initial court appearance Tuesday in Dunklin County in southeast Missouri. He did not enter a plea and is arranging for counsel, said Stephen Sokoloff, Dunklin County prosecutor.

Morgan in an affidavit told police he saw the girl, Breeann Rodriguez, on a ladder by the pool in his back yard in Senath, Missouri, on August 6, Sokoloff said. The girl was part of a family in the neighborhood and had last been seen riding her bike.

Morgan told police he suffocated the girl and drove away with her body, depositing it along a state highway bridge. Sokoloff said he could not discuss Morgan's motive, but that the Rodriquez killing has hit hard in Senath, a community of about 1,750 people.

"It's horrendous," Sokoloff said. "The impact on the town has been horrible. It's a small town."

Morgan is also accused of armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence. His next court appearance is August 30, Sokoloff said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Jerry Norton)