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Dontae Morris smirks in court, widows cry during autopsy testimony

7:26 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - It was another emotional day in court in the Dontae Morris murder trial.  

Morris is accused of murdering two beloved Tampa police officers, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, on June 29, 2010. Cops say Morris then eluded law enforcement for four days, the largest manhunt in Tampa Bay history.

In a shocking moment Wednesday, Morris was seen smiling and smirking in court before the proceedings. He looked around the courtroom at spectators as family members braced themselves for painful testimony.

But today's testimony was difficult for different reasons. 

While the testimony Tuesday revealed raw emotion from a Tampa police officer who was first on the scene that fateful night and widow Kelly Curtis taking the stand to identify her husband's handwriting, Wednesday's testimony dealt with the grit of the investigation.

The autopsies of the fallen officers were discussed in detail by the medical examiner, Leszek Chrostowski, who has performed thousands of autopsies. He described as it as, "the science of suffering."

Autopsy photos were shown to jurors of the fallen officers. Jurors listened intently and stared at the photographs, which were shown strictly to the jury.  Many were taking notes.

The widows of the men were crying in court during the graphic testimony.  The state approached the women and warned them about the testimony prior to discussion.  The wives stayed in court.

The Medical Examiner said Officer David Curtis suffered a "gunshot wound to the head.  Cause of death was homicide. Bullet passed through the skin and skull causing skull fractures to brain."

He added, "This is not survivable. He could not be saved."  

In the case of Officer Kocab, the medical examiner said, "the muzzle was between six inches and two feet from his head" when he was murdered.

Both men were only 31 years old, and both donated their organs.

Also on the stand, Detective Henry Duran, who is now security head for the Bucs.  He was the lead investigator in the case and says he watched the dash-cam video many times. 

"I've observed every frame, broken down into milliseconds when the officers were killed.  I know Dontae Morris' voice. That is Dontae Morris."

The detective said there was no doubt in his mind that the voice in the car from the traffic stop that night was Dontae Morris. 

The defense team for Morris requested a mistrial, which was denied.  Judge William Fuente said that Tampa police can identify Morris, that they are familiar with him.  Defense said that jurors also make judgment in a case like this.

Jail house phone calls were also played for jurors where Dontae Morris can be heard talking with his half-brother about his life.   He also talked about his ex, Ashley Price, saying, "I hope she don't keep up with the foolishness."

The state is seeking the death penalty in this case.  The defense maintains Dontae Morris arranged to turn himself in during the manhunt and was scared.

 

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