Jury deciding Dontae Morris murder case

TAMPA - The Dontae Morris murder case went to the jury Wednesday.

Morris is accused of shooting Rodney Jones outside a west Tampa club in May 2010. He still faces charges of killing two Tampa police officers and two other men.


The defense did not call any witnesses Wednesday and Morris did not take the stand in his own defense.

If convicted, Morris faces life in prison.

During Wednesday's morning proceedings, the prosecution showed text messages that Morris sent to his girlfriend, Cortnee Brantley, asking her to set up an alibi the night of the shooting.

One text read: "Listen if anything foolish happens you and me spunt (sic) the night 2 gether in palm river since 7 at nite"

The state also said Morris later texted Brantley asking her to erase those text messages from that night.

Brantley was convicted in federal court earlier this year for withholding information for her role in the murders of Tampa police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab.

Morris is accused of killing the officers and three other people, including Jones.

Wednesday's proceedings followed Tuesday's testimony from 24-year-old Ashley price.  

Price said Morris trusted her and called her frequently to talk on the phone. She told jurors that Morris confessed to killing Jones.

She said it was a revenge shooting for a past wrong.

"Ms. Price, did he tell you why he killed Mr. Jones?" state prosecutor Scott Harmon asked.

"From retaliation off of Mr. Jones robbing him," she answered.

The problem with Ashley Price, is that she testified in an orange jail jumpsuit.  

She's a convicted felon with a criminal record, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

"How many times?" asked Harmon.  

"Three times," she answered.  

"And are you currently incarcerated in the Hillsborough County Jail?" he asked.  

"Yes," she said.

If the jury doubts her testimony, state prosecutors will have to come up with something that speaks louder.  

The defense made sure jurors knew Ashley Price cut a sweet deal for her latest felony, conjuring doubt that was loud and clear.

"It's your testimony that you getting that favorable plea was not a reward in return for your testimony against Mr. Morris?," asked defense attorney Byron Hileman.
 
"No, it was not," she answered.
 
"Had nothing to do with it?" he asked her.
 
"Nothing," she replied.

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