TAMPA - Dontae Morris was sentenced to death Friday for the murders of two Tampa police officers, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, in 2010.
You could hear a pin drop in the courtroom just after everyone was instructed by the bailiff not to make any noises or outbursts no matter what sentence was handed down. But what the families of the fallen officers couldn't show out loud, they did quietly. Clutching each other's hands, tears streaming down their faces, heads of Dontae Morris supporters low.
Morris stared at the Judge the entire time as he heard Judge William Fuente hand down the death sentence for two counts of premeditated, first-degree murder of two officers of the law.
After the sentence was read, the families, as well as the Tampa Police Department, read statements.
"This has been an extremely long, hard four years," said Kelly Curtis, widow of David Curtis. "Our faith, our family and our friends have helped to get us through this process."
Curtis was speaking for all family and friends who were part of the standing room-only crowd in the courtroom Friday morning. People who say they just wanted justice after all this time.
"Jeff and Dave died as heroes," said Tampa Police Deputy Chief Brian Dugan. "They died protecting those who cannot protect themselves. This sentence was about justice and not about revenge."
Before the hearing even began, a death penalty sentence seemed eminent after the same jury that convicted Morris of the shooting deaths of Curtis and Kocab voted 12-0 for death, but technicalities threatened to delay sentencing.
Morris has 30 days to appeal.
Morris is still facing murder charges in two other cases that have yet to be tried. Before today's hearing he was already serving a life sentence for the shooting death of a man at a Tampa nightclub the same year he murdered Kocab and Curtis.