Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

Judge to rule on revoking Cortnee Brantley's bail

TAMPA — Cortnee Brantley is scheduled to appear before a judge Wednesday to determine if she violated terms of her bail while she appeals the conviction of a federal charge connected with the 2010 deaths of two Tampa police officers.

Brantley, 25, was sentenced this summer to a year and a day in prison for failing to warn authorities that her boyfriend, Dontae Morris, was a felon with a loaded gun. But she was allowed to remain free on bail while appealing the conviction.

The hearing on whether to revoke her bail and put her behind bars is scheduled just days before jury selection begins in the trial of Morris, 28, who is accused of killing Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis.

Brantley's bail, set at $25,000, was secured by property forfeiture agreements and was co-signed by her mother, Mischell Washington, and a grandmother.

The order, as recorded by a court clerk, lists conditions Brantley is to abide by, including: "reside with mother; maintain employment; no direct or indirect contact with persons involved in underlying investigation; no access to firearms." Terms also include electronic monitoring.

It is unclear what conditions prosecutors think were violated.

Brantley's attorney, Grady Irvin, said he was aware of the notice filed in federal court Wednesday afternoon, but does not know much about it.

"To say that I'm very concerned would be an understatement," Irvin said. "I am aware that the family home was recently foreclosed on. Her mother is battling cancer. … It's just a very difficult time for that family."

Irvin said he is usually in contact with Brantley, but had not yet discussed the notice with her.

Hillsborough County court records show that Washington's Seffner house — where Brantley has been living — was foreclosed upon in July and was scheduled to go to auction in September.

Authorities say Brantley was driving a car that carried Morris as a passenger when it was pulled over by Tampa police in 2010. Morris shot and killed the officers, prosecutors say, and Brantley drove off — leaving Morris and the officers behind.

A federal jury determined earlier this year that she then traded phone calls and text messages with Morris while the city launched the largest manhunt in its history to find him.

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr., who had approved her remaining free on bail during an appeal, will preside over the hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Moody has been skeptical of the government's case against Brantley, initially dismissing the obscure charge, called misprision of a felony, only to have an appeals court order it reinstated.

The bail hearing comes as jury selection for Morris' case is set to begin in Orange County. Jurors in the high-profile case will be chosen there, then brought to Tampa for the trial.

The state's double murder case against Morris begins Nov. 4.

Staff writer Patty Ryan and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

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