Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial of accused cop killer Dontae Morris put off until spring

TAMPA — Dontae Morris, whose first-degree murder trial this month was aborted by jury pool gossip, won't be tried again until February or March, the prosecution and defense agreed Friday.

But lawyers did not agree on whether to again attempt to find 12 impartial jurors in Hillsborough County or to move Morris' trial to another city — possibly Orlando, Jacksonville, or Miami.

Morris' attorneys want the trial moved. The prosecution argued that it almost had a jury this month before gossip tainted the pool.

Morris was to face charges that he fatally shot Rodney Jones, 42, during an attempted robbery outside the Cotton Club in West Tampa on May 31, 2010.

Three more murder trials for Morris — including one for the 2010 fatal shootings of Tampa police Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis — remain in limbo, unscheduled.

Early this month, lawyers had reduced a pool of 200 potential jurors to 70 who said they were not familiar with the charges against Morris.

But then 16 people in the remaining pool admitted they had either participated in or overheard gossip about Morris, even though the judge gave each of them a written order not to talk about the defendant.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente dismissed the entire pool.

On Friday, Fuente said he was concerned about the risk of failing again to find an impartial jury in Hillsborough County, given the complications of assembling another large jury pool and bringing in witnesses.

One alternative would be to select a jury in another city, then bring jurors to Tampa for the trial.

But because the trial itself is expected to take no more than four or five days, Fuente said he may consider trying the case wherever a jury is selected.

He said he would take all the options under advisement. He set another hearing for Sept. 14.

John Barry can be reached at (813)226-3383 or jbarry@tampabay.com.

Trial of accused cop killer Dontae Morris put off until spring 08/17/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 17, 2012 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.