TAMPA, Fla. (TBO.com) - A circuit judge will rule by the end of the week whether to delay the sentencing of Dontae Morris because a Tampa police detective who testified at Morris’ trial is the focus of a federal grand jury investigation.
Morris was convicted in November of killing police officers Dave Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab during a 2010 traffic stop.
While state prosecutors denied knowing the nature of the federal probe, they did say that the U.S. Attorney’s Office informed them the investigation of Eric Houston, a detective fired last month, likely will last through Labor Day.
Circuit Judge William Fuente was initially asked by defense attorney Byron Hileman for a six-week continuance, or until the facts of the investigation involving Houston are revealed. He said he has 10 days after sentencing to file a motion for new trial, and can’t file that motion if the nature of the probe is unknown. Hileman said Houston played a large part of the prosecution’s case against Morris — Houston testimony took up 84 pages of transcript and he was the witness who vouched for several pieces of evidence, mostly photographs.
“He was the person in total control of the crime-scene processing,” Hileman said. “If these charges are germane to our case, obviously prejudice may be a real possibility.”
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