Cortnee Brantley found guilty, but judge hasn't ruled - WFLA News Channel 8

Cortnee Brantley found guilty, but judge hasn't ruled

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Cortnee Brantley and her attorney, Grady Irvin, headed into court today.  Photo: Jay Conner/Tampa Tribune Cortnee Brantley and her attorney, Grady Irvin, headed into court today. Photo: Jay Conner/Tampa Tribune

After more than five hours of deliberations, jurors returned a guilty verdict in the trial of Cortnee Brantley, the woman police say was driving the night her boyfriend shot and killed two Tampa Police officers in 2010.

But in a legal twist, Brantley's case is not over.

Brantley is charged with a rarely used charge called misprision of a felony. Prosecutors say she knew her boyfriend Dontae Morris was a felon who had a gun he wasn't allowed to have, and that she tried to hide that fact.

Brantley's defense attorney has argued authorities focused on Brantley because they wanted her to confirm the identity of Morris and be a witness to the murders.

After the verdict was read, Judge James Moody did not officially "adjudicate" Brantley guilty, a routine action that rarely gets mention. But in this case, not declaring her guilty raises questions about whether Moody, who has voiced issues with the charge in the past, will decline to accept the verdict or throw the case out.

Jeff Brown, an attorney not involved with the case, says he's never seen this type of situation.

"Normally, what would happen is they would return a verdict and he would accept that verdict, and adjudicate somebody guilty," Brown said. "So the fact he's not finding her guilty means there's something about the verdict that seems to be troubling him."

When issuing their verdict, jurors listed "coordinating via phone calls and text messages" with Morris as the actions Brantley took to conceal Morris was a felon in possession with a weapon. After reading the verdict, Moody asked the jury if they wanted to be more specific, but they declined.

The texts referenced in court involved referred, among other things, to where the Brantley's car was parked. Brantley's attorney argued there was no evidence the defendant moved her car on instruction from Morris.

The concealment issue is one Moody questioned earlier in the trial, but allowed the case to go to the jury. 

After the verdict, Moody denied a motion by the prosecution to take Brantley into custody, instead allowing her to leave. He also did not set a sentencing date for her.

After court adjourned, Brantley's attorney Grady Irvin filed a motion for acquittal, saying any "coordinating" could only legally be viewed as intent and not an" affirmative act of concealment."

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