TAMPA — Cortnee Brantley, the sometime-girlfriend of suspected Tampa cop-killer Dontae Morris, is seeking a federal public defender, according to pleadings filed Monday.
The reason: to represent her in the appeal of the dismissal of the federal charge against her.
Grady Irvin Jr., who has been Brantley's attorney to now, said in a motion that he was not retained to represent Brantley on appeal.
Brantley has no checking or savings account, nor any money she could use to pay a lawyer for the appeal, Irvin said. Her sole asset is her 1994 Toyota Camry — the car that Tampa police said she drove away after seeing Morris shoot and kill Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab.
Not only does the car have little resale value, Irvin said, but it is in police custody as evidence in the murder case against Morris, 25, who could face the death penalty if convicted.
Brantley, 22, had faced a rarely used federal charge known as misprision of a felony. That meant prosecutors said she knew that Morris was a felon in possession of a loaded gun on the night that Curtis and Kocab were slain, but she did not tell authorities.
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. dismissed the charge Oct. 28, saying that the evidence had not shown, as the law requires, that Brantley not only knew about the gun but took some specific act to conceal it.
Last week, federal prosecutors said they felt the facts were sufficient to support the charge and appealed Moody's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
The cost of travel to Atlanta, transcripts and other aspects of the appeal represented an expense that Irvin doubted that Brantley's family could bear. Brantley's mother and grandmother pledged their homes to secure a bond for her release on bail and that has put a financial burden on the family, he said.