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Mon 10:33 AM, Aug 01, 2011
Wearing an olive tweed jacket and black slacks, 50-year-old Richard Morrison, showed no emotion as the verdict was being delivered. “We the jury find the defendant, as to the charge of murder, guilty.”
Morrison was accused of killing his girlfriend 45-year-old Tammie Smith. Tammie’s sister, Deborah, spoke on her family’s behalf.
“We’re just very ecstatic about this verdict,” says Deborah. “We love Tammie and we just feel like Tammie can rest in peace.”
On May 30, 2009, a cyclist found Smith’s body hidden in tall grass on Cypress Street. She was bruised and her ribs and back were broken.
The next day, police charged Morrison, her boyfriend of 12 years, with the murder.
Defense Attorney Wade Krueger argues Tammie could have been hit by a car. “No hand weapon was seized from Mr. Morrison’s home,” says Krueger. “There’s no baseball bat, no sledgehammer. There’s no crowbar. There’s no weapon he could have used to kill her.”
But Prosecutor Tracy Chapman says Morrison’s jeans were later found in the dumpster. Smith’s blood was on the jeans, pinning him to the crime.
“At 9:45 that morning, is it so important to get rid of these pants?,” asks Chapman. “This is the one piece of evidence he can’t explain away. This is the one piece of evidence that proves he murdered this woman.”
Morrison’s family had no comment about the verdict.
His sentencing will be at the Lowndes County Jail on September 27
Valdosta police say Morrison told them that Smith stole money from him and had a drinking problem.
Toxicology reports show that Smith was taking Prozac and had a blood alcohol level of .269 at the time of her death.
The defense argues that Smith may have been hit by a car. Morrison faces life in prison.
[UPDATE] Valdosta, Georgia – July 27, 2011
Sergeant Kyle Salter, with Valdosta police, took the stand first on day two of the trial.
When police discovered Smith’s body, Salter brought defendant Richard Morrison, 50, in for questioning.
“A month ago she had stabbed herself,” says Salter, talking about what Morrison told him on May 30, 2009. “And that’s why blood was there. And he said that she was all the time drunk and she was all the time falling.”
Prosecutors played the 40 minute taped conversation.
Salter: Any reason she would tell her family that ya’ll got into an argument?
Morrison: That don’t happen
Salter: Sir, I’m speaking to the family right now and I can tell you her family told me that.
Salter testified that Morrison said Smith stole money from him, was a prostitute, drug addict and one day would get hit by a car because she was known to walk along Cypress Street, where her body was found.
When Prosecutor Tracy Chapman asked Salter if he he confronted Morrison about blood found in his home, Salter replied, “Yes, I did.”
And when she asked him what Morrison’s response was, Salter replied, “He said of course blood’s gonna be there. She’s falling all over the place. She’s drunk, she falls all the time.”
Sergeant Kari Williams said she found blood in Morrison’s bedroom. One of several places in his house.
“He told me that I could look on Tammie’s chest and I could see a stab mark and he told me that one day he was lying in his bed and she just got mad and he said she just stabbed herself,” explained Williams.
Smith’s children testified that she and Morrison had a long history of abuse.
Closing statements begin at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
We will be in court to cover the rest of the trial