Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Dontae Morris changes his mind about potential death sentence defense

TAMPA — Dontae Morris, who is scheduled to stand trial next month in the shooting deaths of two Tampa police officers, has changed his mind about cooperating with his attorneys as they prepare a defense against a potential death sentence.

At a Friday hearing, Morris told Circuit Judge William Fuente that he would allow his lawyers to argue against the death penalty if he is convicted in the 2010 killings of Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab.

The hearing was called because his attorneys had said they were getting mixed signals from him about whether he wanted to fight the death penalty, should he be found guilty.

Morris said that while he had been uncooperative in the past, he would allow his lawyers to present family members as witnesses on his behalf in a potential sentencing hearing. He said he would also submit to examinations by psychologists in order to better argue against a death sentence.

Saying only a few words, Morris, 28, suggested the whole hearing was unnecessary and that there had been miscommunication with his attorneys.

"Everything we discussed right now that y'all discussing. … I told them that we was going to go through with the process, and we didn't have to go through this," he said in a calm, high-pitched voice.

Fuente had said he wanted to personally question Morris about what he wants. The session offered a rare chance for Morris to speak publicly, three years after his arrest.

He is slated to go on trial Nov. 4 in the murders of Curtis and Kocab. Morris already was convicted in another murder case and sentenced to life in prison.

Capital murder defendants sometimes choose not fight the death penalty. Some act out of strategy — thinking that forfeiting their right to argue during sentencing will allow a more effective appeal later on — while others are so-called "volunteers" for execution who have resigned themselves to death.

Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

Comments
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 2 minutes ago

High school scoreboard for April 24

Tuesday’s scoreboardBaseballCalvary Chr. 8, Jesuit 1Boys TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, King 1Girls TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, Freedom 1...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — Caps and gowns were in the future for Bryson Welton-Williams and his two friends.Then came Tuesday’s horrific car crash.The three 18-year-old Lakewood High School seniors drove off from school a few minutes early, just 22 days away f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

LAND O’LAKES — A school resource officer at Sunlake High School is under investigation after he tried to take a female student into custody on Tuesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.School officials asked the SRO remove the student f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 17-year-old girl was killed Tuesday when her car was hit by a sport-utility vehicle that ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.One of the occupants of the SUV who ran from the crash scene was captured hours late...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

PLANT CITY — East Bay senior Haley Murphy had to take a few games off early this season to give the flaring tendinitis in her left knee a rest.When Murphy did come back around midseason, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez eased her into the fl...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

The family of the 18-year-old Sarasota high school student under fire for the racist prom proposal he sent out on social media this weekend has publicly apologized for their son’s actions.They also said that as a result of his actions, he will not at...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Softball: Boca Ciega gets a shot at defending district champ

DUNEDIN — Standing in centerfield during her team's Class 6A-9 district semifinal Tuesday night, Boca Ciega's Mia Blasingane had one dominating thought: "We want Tarpon Springs real bad. I was saying that to myself. I want to see Tarpon Springs...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Softball: Alonso knocks off defending state finalist PHU in 9A-8 semifinals

PALM HARBOR — To get an idea of just how tough the competition is in Class 9A, District 8, consider that there has been a different tournament champion each of the past three seasons.All three — Newsome (2015), Alonso (2016) and Palm Harb...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Updated: 3 hours ago