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Archive for Friday, September 21, 2007

$1M bond reduced

Daughter still in jail in case related to U.S. 59 deaths

September 21, 2007

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Hit and run suspects return to court

A mother and daughter suspected in a deadly hit and run accident south of Lawrence return to court this morning. Enlarge video

An Osage County magistrate on Thursday ordered a significant bond reduction for a woman accused of helping her mother in a police pursuit following a fatal hit-and-run last week in Douglas County.

Sabrina J. Morgan, 26, saw her bond drop from $1 million to $100,000 after her attorney, Greg Robinson, of Lawrence, argued that she was not a risk for fleeing the area.

Robinson also said the higher bond was inappropriate and that its purpose was to hold Morgan while Douglas County continues its investigation into the deaths of two highway workers. No charges have been filed in Douglas County.

"I think the crux of this is to wait for Mr. Branson to have more time," Robinson said, referring to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

In Osage County, Morgan is charged with aiding a felon. Her mother, Ramona I. Morgan, 48, allegedly the driver of the truck involved in the police chase, is being held on several misdemeanor traffic violations, as well as a felony charge of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. Her bond is $2 million.

Last week, Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones said he sought the high bonds because of the seriousness of the charges and the possibility the women could face more serious charges in Douglas County. He also noted that the Morgans' last known address was in Washington state, making them a flight risk.

But Robinson said Sabrina Morgan has the funds to live in the Douglas or Osage county area. If Sabrina Morgan is convicted, she would fall under the presumptive probation category in state sentencing guidelines, Robinson said.

"The court is not specifically concerned about holding either of the women for another jurisdiction," Magistrate Jon Stephen Jones said.

Robinson asked that Sabrina Morgan's preliminary hearing be conducted soon. Magistrate Jones set the hearing for 3 p.m. Wednesday. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for the prosecutor to present some of the evidence in the case and for the judge to determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Ramona Morgan is still trying to hire an attorney. Magistrate Jones continued her case to 9 a.m. Thursday. Robinson said he had been asked by Sabrina Morgan to hire an attorney for her mother.

The Morgans were arrested Sept. 11 after a pickup truck was driven into a restricted one-lane construction zone on U.S. Highway 59 at Pleasant Grove. Highway workers Tyrone T. Korte, 30, Seneca, and Rolland "Ron" Griffith, 24, El Dorado, were struck and killed.

The truck did not stop and was spotted minutes later by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who tried to stop the truck and then pursued it on U.S. Highway 56 in Osage County. The truck stopped after two of its tires were flattened when officers put a spike strip in the road.

Sabrina Morgan is being held in the Douglas County Jail, while her mother is in the Osage County Jail. Authorities wanted to keep the women separated.

On Thursday, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol continued their investigation into the fatality incident. Reports might be forwarded to the district attorney "any day now," Patrol spokesman Lt. John Eichkorn said.

"It's a very complex case, and we want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row," he said.

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