The state was locking down its case against Dontae Morris as testimony continued in day two of his murder trial Wednesday. Morris is accused of gunning down Tampa police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab at close range three years ago during a traffic stop.
Before jurors were called in, Morris chatted and smiled. His face turned serious during expert witness testimony, including a Hillsborough County Medical Examiner. When asked if he was able to determine a cause of death for Officer Curtis, Dr. Leszek Chrostowski responded, "Officer Curtis died of a gunshot wound to the head with penetration of skull and brain."
Tampa Police detective Henry Duran took the stand and positively identified the gunman as Dontae Morris, after having analyzed the dashcam video that captured the shooting. "When David Curtis asked Mr. Morris to come out of the vehicle, that video again was sliced and I've observed every frame, broken down in milliseconds," Duran explained.
Then friend of Morris referred to as his ex-lover, Ashley Price, also took the stand.
When Price was asked, "Can you please point to where he (Morris) is and describe an article of clothing?" She pointed at Morris, saying, "The one in the red shirt."
Price and Morris were lovers in 2010 and Price said he trusted her, called her and confided in her, confessing to the murder of two Tampa police officers, just hours after the shooting.
When asked what Morris told her, she replied, "that he did it." When asked if she knew what he was talking about, she said yes. "Had he referred you to something?" an attorney asked. "To watch the news," she replied.
Price said he did it because he was afraid he would be arrested due to an outstanding warrant. She went on to say that Morris shot the officers from outside of his vehicle, both in the head.
Later in the afternoon, the defense called for a mistrial, arguing that the state implied during their questioning that Morris was involved in threats against her, and that the trial had been contaminated. The judge denied the mistrial.
Tuesday, jurors saw the dashcam video that captured the shooting of the officers.
"That same evidence will tell you that that vicious, cold-blooded killer is sitting in this courtroom today. He's sitting over here -- Dontae R. Morris," state prosecutor Scott Harmon said.
Dontae Morris could face death if convicted.
The trial is expected to last through the week. Court will return Thursday morning around 8:15 a.m.