Guilty verdict in Dontae Morris trial - WFLA News Channel 8

Guilty verdict in Dontae Morris trial

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Dontae Morris in court on the first day of the trial. Dontae Morris in court on the first day of the trial.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - It took a jury about four hours to find Dontae Morris guilty of first-degree murder in the 2010 shooting deaths of Tampa Police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab.

Around 7:25 on Friday night, they notified the court they had reached a consensus: guilty on all counts, first-degree premeditated murder for both Curtis and Kocab, and guilty of escape while transporting.

"There's no verdict that is going to bring Jeff and Dave back or ease the pain of their loss," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said after the trial. "But tonight at least this verdict gives us some closure and just a little bit of relief. We're very pleased with the outcome of the trial and are relieved that he's not going to be able to hurt another person from our community."

Prosecutors are asking that Morris be put to death. Jurors will return to court Tuesday when the sentencing phase starts and they will decide the convicted killer's fate.
When asked if she thought Morris should be executed, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said "that's not for me to decide".

"What everyone was looking for here was to say once and for all that he was responsible for the deaths of both Dave and Jeff and that he will never be a free person again," Castor said.

Morris is convicted of shooting and killing Officers Curtis and Kocab during a traffic stop on June 29, 2010. A patrol car camera captured the events of that night. Prosecutors said the video was enough to convict Morris.

Related: Dontae Morris coverage 

"There is no doubt from this evidence that this defendant gave these officers no chance," said Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon during closing arguments. "He drew them in to his trap and then he executed them."

On Thursday, defense attorneys had moved for a mistrial, saying the rules about who can see the car camera video gives the state an unfair advantage. Judge William Fuente denied the request.

Morris did not testify in court. His defense attorneys argued there was no DNA or fingerprint evidence to put Morris at the crime scene and that the only people who testified that is was, in fact, Dontae Morris in the video of the murder are other police officers.

"These witnesses are law enforcement officers, they are part of the brotherhood of law enforcement officers. I'm not suggesting that they are lying to you," said attorney Karen Meeks. "But I'm saying it would be very difficult."

It didn't stick with the jurors. Morris showed no emotion as the verdict as a clerk read their verdict.

Kelly Curtis, Officer Curtis' wife, made a statement for both families. She remained calm as she read from a piece of paper but became emotional as she turned around and pointed to the group of about 50 police officers who gathered behind her.

"To you guys - for being there to support us, TPD, thank you," she said as her voice broke. "We couldn't have done it without you guys."

She also had a message for the residents of Tampa Bay.

"Thank you for all the support we've received from the community," Curtis said. "We couldn't have been so strong if it wasn't for all that support and our faith."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also issued a statement, saying in part: "Justice has been served. Today, the jury did their part to ensure that Morris will never walk our streets or have the opportunity to inflict evil on our community again."

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