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Officer Steven Roy breaks down in Dontae Morris trial, recalls seeing deceased officers

8:21 PM, Nov 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Security was tight. Emotions were running high. Deputies were everywhere.  And the line to get in was lengthy.

But the first two people inside the courtroom where Dontae Morris was waiting were the widows, Kelly Curtis and Sara Kocab.  They arrived at court, surrounded by family members and police officers.  Their faces were solemn. After all, this trial has been three years in the making. 

On June 29, 2010, their husbands, Dave Curtis and Jeff Kocab, left home to go on patrol for Tampa Police and never returned.

Prosecutors say Morris, who is accused of murdering Officers Kocab and Curtis, is a cold-blooded killer.  However, Morris' attorneys claim their client arranged to turn himself in that fateful night and that his "world was turned upside down" during a week-long manhunt.

The first witness was Kelly Curtis, who identified her husband's handwriting when cops say he came into contact with Dontae Morris that night.  

"Yes, that is his handwriting," she said.  "Like all the other notebooks I have." The state was trying to show that aside from the fact that they say Morris identified himself numerous times that night, Officer Curtis also wrote Morris' name and information down on a small notepad.

Officer Steven Roy broke down on the stand as he recalled being the first person on the scene when the two officers were shot. "I saw them..." and he broke down in tears.  After a brief moment, he said, "I'm good," and continued testifying. 

He was overcome with grief while describing seeing his fellow officers lying on the ground, both shot in the head.  "I did CPR," said the officer.

Prosecutor Scott Harmon told the jury, "Officer Curtis and Officer Kocab would face head-on what surely are nightmares for police officers: a vicious, brutal, determined killer.  The two gunshots were almost like one," he said.

Meanwhile, defense attorney Karen Meeks said, "Dontae Morris arranged to turn himself in, to surrender to law enforcement. He said, 'I'm Dontae Morris, I surrender myself.'  No one who appears before you, not anyone, not Dontae Morris, no one will make light of the deaths of these officers."

She told the jury, "It is your job to seek the truth to sift through the evidence."

Throughout the afternoon, officers testified, including a longtime homicide detective, Eric Houston. He said, "I saw what appeared to be blood particles on the roof by the rear passenger door." He also says he got a search warrant for the car cops say was driven by Morris' girlfriend, Cortnee Brantley.

Meanwhile a witness, Ynalia Keen, testified that she saw a suspect who looked like Morris jump two fences that night after gunshots went off. 

"He had to jump a small fence. I saw someone standing by a car.  I went back in the house to protect myself. My mom said to cut off the lights."

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

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