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First of Dontae Morris' murder trials to be held in Tampa with jurors from Orlando

TAMPA — Too many in the Tampa Bay area recognize Dontae Morris, accused of murdering five men, including two police officers, in 2010.

So for one of his murder trials in March, the jury will be chosen from a pool in Orlando and transported to Tampa, Circuit Judge William Fuente ruled this week.

Morris will answer to charges that he killed Rodney Jones, 42, during an attempted robbery outside the Cotton Club in West Tampa.

The trial was first attempted last August, but the pool of 200 potential jurors was depleted because of exposure to pretrial publicity and gossip.

After that happened, Fuente expressed concern about assembling another giant pool in Hillsborough and scheduling witnesses only to fail again.

Two weeks have been set aside for jury selection and testimony.

Still unscheduled are the trials for the four other deaths — Derek Anderson, 21, Harold Wright, 25 and Tampa Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, both 31.

The people of Tampa Bay first heard of Morris after the shooting deaths of the officers on June 29, 2010. His face was displayed on posters and fliers and televisions during a widely chronicled manhunt.

After the officers' deaths, he was connected to the three other murders.

If convicted of the murders of the two police officers, Morris could get the death penalty.

First of Dontae Morris' murder trials to be held in Tampa with jurors from Orlando 01/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:24pm]
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