Jury selection begins for suspected Tampa cop killer - WFLA News Channel 8

Jury selection begins for suspected Tampa cop killer

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Jury selection will begin in Orlando for Dontae Morris trial Jury selection will begin in Orlando for Dontae Morris trial
ORLANDO, FL -

More than three years have passed since a heartbroken community said goodbye to two Tampa police officers. Now the man suspected of murdering them is going on trial. Dontae Morris could be sentenced to death if he's found guilty.

Jury selection begins Monday at the Orange County Courthouse. A Hillsborough County judge decided to pick the men and women from a pool of Orlando residents because of all the pretrial publicity in Tampa.

Officer Dave Curtis and Officer Jeff Kocab, both 31, were shot at a traffic stop on June 29, 2010. The entire incident was captured on dash camera video, which will be played for jurors during the trial.

Related Story: Dontae Morris speaks in court on potential death sentence.

"It's the most horrific thing that I have ever seen not only in my law enforcement career, but in my life," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.

Castor said the video, which documents each moment of the fatal encounter, will be the most crucial piece of evidence presented against Morris.

"The value of that in this trial is very significant and it will keep a lot of officers, civilians, other individuals from having to go up and relieve, this moment by moment, up on the stand," Castor said.

Morris was captured after a 4-day manhunt. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state came to Tampa to help with the search. Castor said she learned of his arrest as she was writing a eulogy for the officers' funeral the following day.

"This is a moment we've looked forward to for several years, but as it grows nearer, it brings back all of those memories," she said Friday. "Nothing's going to bring Dave and Jeff back, but each step you take through this process, I believe helps the healing process."

Opening statements are scheduled to start at the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Nov. 12. The jury will be sequestered during the entire trial and will be housed in a Hillsborough County hotel.

Morris is charged with killing a total of five men in 2010. A jury convicted him for murdering Rodney Jones in March and sentenced him to life in prison. He's still awaiting trial for the other two cases.

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