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Dontae Morris pleads not guilty to fifth murder charge

Dontae Morris was shackled and flanked by two bailiffs in his appearance in court Friday.


Dontae Morris was shackled and flanked by two bailiffs in his appearance in court Friday.

TAMPA — Dontae Morris, indicted last week by a grand jury, pleaded not guilty Friday to the murder of Rodney Jones.

Jones' is the fifth murder Morris has been accused of committing. The 42-year-old father of two was shot dead outside the Cotton Club on Albany Avenue on May 31.

Prosecutors said Friday the state has not determined whether it will seek the death penalty. Prosecutors already are pursuing the death penalty against Morris for the June 29 shooting deaths of Tampa police Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis.

Bailiffs stood on each side of the shackled Morris at Friday's hearing. The families of the police officers and shooting victims Harold Wright and Derek Anderson also were there.

After Morris pleaded not guilty, defense attorney Byron Hileman asked the judge how he should handle his copy of the video recording taken from one of the officer's dashboard cameras, which captured the police shootings.

Hileman was unsure if he should unseal his copy because he's concerned that unauthorized people would then view it. Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet told him he would have to open the package and watch it "in order to make a cogent argument."

The defense also filed a motion to suppress some of the evidence from the public record. Sleet will hear arguments on the subject Feb. 11 before deciding what evidence will be sealed.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Dontae Morris pleads not guilty to fifth murder charge 01/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 10:47pm]
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