TAMPA, Fla. (TBO.com) - Citing “overwhelming evidence,” a judge on Tuesday denied a new trial for Dontae Morris in the murders of two Tampa police officers.
Morris was sentenced to death last month for the execution-style murders of the officers, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, during a traffic stop on June 29, 2010. The shootings were captured on Curtis’ dashboard video, which Circuit Judge William Fuente cited as part of the evidence he said overwhelmingly proved Morris’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Morris is also serving a life sentence for his conviction in another murder, the shooting of Rodney Jones, weeks before the officers were killed. He is facing two more murder trials in other shootings.
Defense lawyers had filed a motion arguing Morris is entitled to a new trial in the police killings based on what they argued were several mistakes made by Fuente.
For example, the defense said prosecutors should not have been allowed to present testimony from a jail deputy that Morris said, “I repent for killing.”
That was an abbreviated version of his statement, “I repent for killing five people,” according to the deputy.
The defense maintains Morris was psychotic when he made the statement and was not knowingly confessing.
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