TAMPA — A federal judge Thursday denied a motion to dismiss the charge against the girlfriend of accused cop killer Dontae Morris, setting the stage for her trial next month.
Cortnee Brantley, 22, of Seffner is accused of not telling authorities she knew that Morris, a felon, illegally possessed the gun and bullets used to kill two Tampa police officers.
Defense attorney Grady Irvin had argued that authorities are pursuing the federal charge because Brantley would not cooperate with local law enforcement officials. During seven hours of interrogation, she sometimes invoked her right to remain silent, he said.
It's unconstitutional to file a federal charge against someone who would ordinarily be prosecuted in state court just because she exercised her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, Irvin said in an motion to dismiss.
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. denied Irvin's motion Thursday. Moody did not set a date for the two-day trial, but discussed scheduling it for November.
Morris, 25, of Tampa faces two counts of first-degree murder and could get the death penalty if convicted in the June 29 deaths of Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab.
Morris was a passenger in Brantley's car, which Curtis pulled over because it did not have a license plate, officials said. He is accused of ambushing the officers and fleeing.
Brantley drove off, did not call for help and later refused to identify Morris in a video of the shootings made by a dashboard camera in one of the officers' cruisers, according to investigators. Nor would she tell a detective what she and Morris talked about in telephone calls after the shooting.
Three months ago, Irvin said Brantley "does not stand by what happened" and would cooperate with investigators.
"We've never heard from her," Tampa police spokesman Laura McElroy said Thursday. "She has never come forward and done the right thing and provided us with information about who aided Dontae Morris and assisted in his ability to elude capture for four days."