TAMPA — A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a criminal charge against the girlfriend of a man accused of the shooting deaths of two Tampa police officers, rejecting an argument that she is being selectively prosecuted.
Cortnee Brantley is charged with failing to warn police that her boyfriend, Dontae Morris, was a felon with a gun and ammunition. Morris is accused of shooting and killing Tampa police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab on June 29, 2010, as they tried to arrest him on a warrant.
Morris was the passenger in a car driven by Brantley when Curtis pulled her over because the car did not have a license plate. Prosecutors said she fled the scene after Morris killed the officers.
Brantley's attorney said another Morris "paramour" was not charged in the case even though her circumstances were similar to Brantley's. This woman, the attorney said, also did not warn police about Morris after another shooting death. But in that case, the attorney said, Morris is accused of killing a civilian, not a police officer.
And that, the attorney said, was improper and should lead to the dismissal of the charge against Brantley.
But U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. ruled that the government has "broad discretion in choosing whom to prosecute." He said a selective prosecution claim could only survive if a decision whether to charge someone is based on religion or race or any other "arbitrary classification."
In Brantley's case, that is not so, the judge said.