TAMPA - A judge found an accused cop killer's girlfriend guilty of withholding crucial information.
Prosecutors claim that Cortnee Brantley should have told Tampa Police that Dontae Morris was a felon who had a loaded gun.
But she kept quiet. And prosecutors say Morris then took the lives of those officers.
It was three weeks ago today that Courtnee Brantley walked out of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa. She was found guilty by a federal jury, but was left to wonder if the judge in charge would uphold the verdict.
The 12-member panel said that Brantley did conceal from authorities that her felon boyfriend, Dontae Morris, was armed with a loaded gun when the couple was pulled over at 2:00 in the morning of June 29, 2010.
Dash-cam video appears to show how Morris shot and killed officers Jeff Kocab and David Curtis during that traffic stop, which led to one of the most intense manhunts in Tampa Bay area history.
A 12-page ruling by the judge went into the "difficulty with the facts of this case...," and in fact, suggested that "if this were a civil case, the jury's verdict would be set aside and judgment granted to Courtnee Brantley as a matter of law." Brantley's attorney, Grady Irvin, officially refrained from comment today, but said the ruling makes "good reading" for anyone who has been following this case.
"It's clear that the judge is still troubled by this case," said John Fitzgibbons, a Tampa-based attorney who has represented numerous defendants in federal cases. He told me that this case is "far from over," considering the judge's ruling, and will likely end up at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta
The members of the Tampa Police Department were said to be pleased to hear that Judge Moody has upheld the findings of the jury in the case against Courtnee Brantley.
Chief Jane Castor released a statement almost immediately saying, "We felt all along that her actions in the deaths of Dave Curtis and Jeff Kocab were wrong and that she should be held accountable. We are pleased to see the justice system saw it the same."
We reached out to Mayor Pam Iorio, who was a constant presence during the manhunt and investigation into the officers' deaths. She told me that she was "way too close to it," and would prefer not to comment at this time, saying Ms. Brantley deserved a fair hearing and trial under the law and that she did not want to affect any of the proceedings.
Indeed, most of those still intimately tied to this trial did not want to speak on the record, as it still remains an open case. Brantley is due back before Judge Moody on April 29 for sentencing.
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