Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Defense says hit-and-run case should be dismissed based on double jeopardy

Attorneys for a woman charged in the hit and run deaths of two highway workers south of Lawrence last year say the charges should be dismissed because of a double-jeopardy case.

July 10, 2008


Charges that a woman killed two highway workers in a hit-and-run incident last year should be dismissed because of violations of double jeopardy clauses, according to a motion filed recently in Douglas County District Court.

Moreover, testimony of witnesses during a preliminary hearing last month do not support the charges against Ramona Morgan, her attorneys wrote in another motion.

Morgan, 49, is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder of the highway workers and one count of reckless aggravated battery for injuring a third worker. The incident occurred Sept. 11, 2007, on U.S. Highway 59 at Pleasant Grove.

In April, Morgan was convicted in Osage County of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude police along with two traffic violations. Prosecutors in Douglas and Osage counties said Morgan drove away from the hit-and-run scene and fled into Osage County where she was chased by the Kansas Highway Patrol and eventually stopped by placement of spike sticks on the highway.

During her Osage County trial a substantial amount of evidence in the Douglas County case was presented, Morgan's Topeka attorneys, Billy Rork and Ken Miller, wrote in their motion.

They argue that the current charges in Douglas County could have been charged as separate or alternative counts in Osage County because they were part of a continuous series of unbroken events. They wrote that Morgan was forced to present some of her defense in the Douglas County case in Osage County.

Morgan's attorneys ask the court to dismiss the Douglas County charges because they were joined in the Osage County case, which they say is in violation of double jeopardy clauses under the U.S. and Kansas constitutions.

In another motion, Morgan's attorneys argue that evidence presented by the prosecution during the preliminary hearing does not show any "wanton neglect" or "grossly negligent conduct" as needed to show reckless second-degree murder or aggravated battery.

Douglas County prosecutors have an opportunity to respond to Morgan's motions in writing and orally during a motions hearing before Judge Paula Martin on July 30. Morgan's trial is scheduled for Sept. 2.


igby 9 years, 10 months ago

Jurisdiction, jurisdiction, jurisdiction. Rork is out of his mind. The Osage County charges were laid out based on criminal acts she committed in Osage County. They had nothing to do with the charges here in Douglas Co. Running from the police, is and can be charged in any County she ran in.

dweezil222 9 years, 10 months ago

bad_dog, I see your point. However, in general, there are three crimes judges just don't grant technicality motions for, unless they're very clear-cut, which this isn't: murder, rape, and child abuse. I suspect it has something to do with the nature of the crime. While stealing a boatload from senior citizens is certainly terrible, those three "physical victimhood" crimes tend to be regarded as sufficiently worse than anything else to differentiate them.

RKLOG 9 years, 10 months ago

"Defense says hit-and-run case should be dismissed based on double jeopardy"I guess that is their job to say such things.But It be more interesting if the prosecution said it.

acg 9 years, 10 months ago

I swear if this chick gets off for this horrible crime, my freakin' head is finally going to pop that one vein that our society has been stretching taut for quite some time.

misslawrence 9 years, 10 months ago

I need to change attorneys..................................

bad_dog 9 years, 10 months ago

Dweezil-I saw a very astute defense lawyer in Wichita get several serious felony counts against his client dismissed on a similar basis. While that trial didn't involve homicide charges, the case was about an salesperson that sold-no preyed upon several Senior Citizens, and defrauded them out of ~ $500,000. One of the victims was in his 90's at the time. The rest were in their 70's as I recall. The Prosecutor made his opening statement. The defense attorney rose and made a statutory interpretation argument regarding the underlying charges. The Court gave the parties 24 hours to brief the issue and ruled against the prosecutor the next day. The defense attorney then filed a Motion seeking a ruling that jeopardy attached when the prosecutor made his opening statement and the prosecution shouldn't have a chance to amend their charges. The Court ruled in his favor and dismissed all charges. Again, not homicide, but allowing him to take the life savings from elderly people without the ability to recoup these losses was a bitter pill for them to swallow.

bad_dog 9 years, 10 months ago

foodboy, you're really close. Actually the old maxim goes like this: "When the law supports your case argue the law; when the facts support your case argue the facts; when neither the facts nor the law favor your case, pound on the table". Don't underestimate Mr. Rork. He's not just "pounding on the table", he's quite good at this. While double jeopardy defenses aren't successful often, they can be successfully raised and it's usually a very painful way for the prosecutor and victims to lose the case.

METALQ2 9 years, 10 months ago


Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

Give her lawyer credit for trying, I guess.

dweezil222 9 years, 10 months ago

It's a relatively sound argument, legally, but it's kind of one of those coin flip things where you'd only win if the charge was something asinine and mundane, like an MIP. No way this motion gets granted in a case like this.

Phil Minkin 9 years, 10 months ago

Lawyers motto: When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you have the law, argue the law. When you have neither file BS motions!

morganlefay 9 years, 10 months ago

"In another motion, Morgan's attorneys argue that evidence presented by the prosecution during the preliminary hearing does not show any "wanton neglect" or "grossly negligent conduct" as needed to show reckless second-degree murder or aggravated battery."OMG! Speeding up to 47 mph (or whatever the exact speed was) seconds before she hit the 2 workers does not show reckless second degree murder or aggravated battery. I really hope this crazy useless piece of protoplasm never walks our streets again. What a useless piece of scum she & her attorneys are. This makes me sick.

jafs 9 years, 10 months ago

I would think that the question of double jeopardy would be important regardless of the crime in question.The concept is that if one is tried and acquitted, they cannot be charged again for the same crime.It's one of many protections against the power of the state that our founders were so concerned about limiting.

yellowhouse 9 years, 10 months ago

Yellow House has been subjected to double jeapordy too. But that has not seemed to stop anybody!

Buggie7 9 years, 10 months ago

Yellowhouse WHO THE HECK CARES If ya dont like it close up freakin shop and MOVE

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 10 months ago

our justice system would not work if not for attorneys who take cases like this and do every thing within their power to defend their clients...they are to be commended in their willingness to be despised:

igby 9 years, 10 months ago

Can't beat a murder charge because of traffic infractions in multiple counties. The agg. felony alluding is and can be charged in both counties. The accident has nothing to do with her felony alluding or running from the police or even imaginary people whom she thought was chasing her. Had she hit and killed someone in Osage County too, do you think that double jeopardy would apply, no. She would be tried for murder in both counties. She ran from the police after a felony crime and running from the police is a jurisdictional function and is specific to location. If your stopped by a state trooper on I-70 and he writes you a ticket and your in Wyandotte County, a specific location, the Trooper does not cite you to appear in Douglas County, he cites you for Wyandotte County distric court.Rork, has little too defend her with and he's stalling with this motion thats without any bases.

countrygirl 9 years, 10 months ago

This has nothing to do with yellow house---can we stick to the subject? I was about half ill from reading the lawyers stunts--to try to throw that in on this thread just finished it. It's not always about you.

somebodynew 9 years, 10 months ago

jafs - but she hasn't been tried and acquitted for murder. She was tried and convicted of fleeing (all traffic) and has not faced trial for the actual act of hitting these two guys. And she was bound over in a preliminary hearing by a judge. Why wasn't this arguement made then?? I think it is a stall tactic. I think Rork would have a better shot and trying for a mental screening for her. (Which he just might do when she runs out of money to pay him - he is not appointed.)

somebodynew 9 years, 10 months ago

OK, I sat through the Osage Co. trial and just can't fathom Rork's arguement in this. The Osage Co. Attorney deliberately stayed away from the Douglas Co. case other than to let the jury know that the reason they were looking for the truck was because of a wreck. There was NO evidence produced as to what happened here. In fact, if I remember correctly the Defense stipulated the the fact the wreck occurred so there wouldn't be any need for testimony. Now the judge down there would not let Rork present his basic defense, which was she was being chased (for 2 days) by non-existant people. Maybe Rork is just afraid the judge up here will make the same ruling. (Although in this court, I think he has a better shot at getting that to work.)

fu7il3 9 years, 10 months ago

Look at it this way. Defense attorney's believe that a person has a right to the best possible defense. They are going to do anything they can think of to legally defend their client. It's their job. It's the prosecutions job to put her away. It's that pesky legal system at work.

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