A woman suspected of leading police on a high-speed chase after a fatal hit-and-run incident will be tried in Osage County.
Magistrate Jon Stephen Jones ruled Friday in Osage County District Court that there was probable cause to try Ramona I. Morgan on a felony charge of fleeing and attempting to elude police. She also faces several misdemeanor traffic charges.
The ruling came after a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper described the chase that occurred Sept. 11, 2007. During a preliminary hearing, trooper Todd Brooks identified Morgan as the driver of a pickup truck he pursued from the western edge of Overbook to a short distance southwest of Scranton.
During the chase the truck reached speeds up to 90 mph and 55 mph in Scranton, Brooks said.
The truck came to a stop after spike sticks deployed by other officers deflated its front tires.
Morgan, 48, from Washington state, is charged in Douglas County with two counts of reckless second-degree murder in the deaths of Rolland G. Griffith, 24, of El Dorado, and Tyrone T. Korte, 30, of Seneca.
Korte, a Kansas Department of Transportation worker, and Griffith, who worked for a contractor, Dustrol Inc., of Towanda, were killed when they were hit by a pickup truck while working on U.S. Highway 59 at Pleasant Hill before the chase. Morgan also is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon for allegedly injuring Curtis Delzell, also of Towanda. The Douglas County case is pending.
Under questioning by Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones, Brooks said he was in his patrol car on Interstate 470 in Topeka that morning when he heard a radio dispatcher report the hit-and-run. Minutes later he was driving east on U.S. Highway 56 when he spotted a truck matching the description given out by dispatchers as it headed west. The truck had extensive front-end damage, he said.
Brooks said he turned around and followed the truck and then attempted to pull it over by using his emergency lights and siren. The truck did not stop.
"At first it was like I didn't exist," Brooks said. "Then they increased their speed."
The truck traveled left of the center line 11 times during the chase, Brooks said. In Scranton another vehicle had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with the truck, he said.
Spikes were deployed twice, once by a Burlingame police officer and then by Osage County Sheriff's deputies, Brooks said. The second time the truck went around the spikes, he said.
When the truck stopped southwest of Scranton, Morgan refused to get out of the truck. Morgan told officers she was afraid she was going to be shot, Brooks said.
"I said, 'As long as you don't have a weapon, you're not going to get shot,'" Brooks said.
The chase was recorded on the patrol car's video camera, Brooks said.
Morgan and her attorney, Billy Rork, of Topeka, will return to court for arraignment at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. She will enter a plea and a trial date will be set. Even if found guilty, under state sentencing guidelines, she is likely to get probation because she has no prior record in Kansas.
After the Osage County case is concluded, Morgan will be brought to Douglas County to face charges in the highway deaths. She is being held in the Osage County Jail on $100,000 bond.
During the chase, Morgan's daughter, Sabrina Morgan, 26, was a passenger in the truck. Although she, too, was initially arrested, charges were not filed against her in Osage or Douglas counties. She was released from jail and was present in the courtroom Friday.
A few relatives of the highway workers also attended the hearing.