TAMPA — Findings by two experts that Dontae Morris is competent and understands his lawyers cleared the way Friday to set a trial date of July 30 for one of five murders Morris is accused of committing.
Morris will first stand trial in the 2010 death of Rodney Jones, a 42-year-old father robbed and killed after he left the Cotton Club on N Albany Avenue. Trials are pending for the deaths of Tampa police officers Dave Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab during a traffic stop and for the fatal shootings of Harold Wright and Derek Anderson in robbery attempts, all of which also occurred in 2010.
On Friday, Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente accepted the findings that Morris was competent without further testimony by the psychiatrist and psychologist who examined him.
The determination of competency applied only to the present, not to his state of mind at the time of the offenses. Morris said nothing except to acknowledge to the judge that he understood the findings.
John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.