TAMPA — The woman accused of fleeing after her boyfriend shot and killed two Tampa police officers cited "love" as a reason for not identifying him to detectives, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors this week asked a judge to reject Cortnee Brantley's motion to suppress evidence of her interrogation with Tampa police detectives on June 29, 2010. The questioning came just hours after a passenger in her car, Dontae Morris, "executed" Tampa police Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis, prosecutors say.
Brantley is scheduled to go on trial in U.S. District Court in Tampa starting Monday on a charge that she failed to report Morris was a felon in possession of a gun and ammunition.
Brantley's attorney, Grady Irvin Jr., earlier told a judge Brantley, through her silence and lack of cooperation, was invoking her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
But prosecutor James Preston Jr. said Brantley did answer some questions, while refusing to answer others. She did not clearly express a desire to remain silent and end the questioning, he added.
Brantley repeatedly refused to identify Morris as the passenger in her car when Curtis stopped it after noticing it had no license plate, Preston said in a motion filed Tuesday.
Brantley also admitted owning the red Toyota Camry that got pulled over and having one passenger whom she refused to identify, according to Preston's motion.
She told detectives she "got pulled over, somebody was injured … and I left the scene" alone. Morris, police said, got away on foot.
Brantley, Preston said, also admitted getting a call before the shooting to pick up the passenger. She denied to detectives that she knew the passenger had a gun, again refusing to identify him.
Her mother, present during some of her questioning, pressed her to answer detectives' questions. Brantley replied, "No. For once in my life, no," according to documents.
Brantley then "used 'love' as an excuse" for not cooperating. "Please don't make me do this … even if somebody (her passenger) doesn't care about me, I still care."
After she was shown the dash-cam video of the officers being killed, police asked her to identify the shooter. Brantley answered, "It was me."
"No reasonable officer could have objectively concluded that the defendant had invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent during this interview, nor should the court," Preston said in his motion.
"Her refusal to provide (Morris') name should be presented to the jury in their determination as to whether the defendant concealed the underlying crime," the motion said.
William R. Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3432.