Archive for Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hit-and-run ‘something I’ll never forget’

Witnesses recall highway workers’ deaths

Ramona Morgan sits during her preliminary hearing Monday in Douglas County District Court. Morgan, 48, is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder in the deaths of two highway workers.

Ramona Morgan sits during her preliminary hearing Monday in Douglas County District Court. Morgan, 48, is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder in the deaths of two highway workers.

June 3, 2008


Witnesses testify in Ramona Morgan preliminary hearing

Graphic testimony today in the case of woman accused of killing two workers on Highway 59 last year. Enlarge video

A speeding pickup truck twice drove through a restricted highway construction zone south of Lawrence the day two workers were killed last year, according to testimony on Monday in Douglas County District Court.

It was during the second drive through on Sept. 11, 2007, that the deaths occurred near Pleasant Grove, witnesses said.

"I yelled, 'Get out of the way.' They didn't hear me," said Rollin Jensen, a supervisor for Dustrol Inc., a Towanda firm hired by the state last year to repave U.S Highway 59.

"I just prayed that they'd move," said Jeremy Mitchell, a heavy equipment operator for Dustrol.

Jensen, Mitchell and others took the witness stand Monday during a preliminary hearing for Ramona Morgan, a former Washington state woman charged with striking the workers with her truck. She faces two counts of reckless second-degree murder and one count of reckless aggravated battery for the injury of a third worker.

The truck drove by a flagger and was headed north on the highway during the first drive through, workers at the scene said. Jensen said he motioned for the truck to slow down and then he had to jump behind some equipment to keep from being hit.

"They just kept going; didn't even hit a brake light," Jensen said.

Jensen said he also threw a plastic cup full of coffee at the truck as it passed within a few feet of him.

"I got a little upset," he said.

About an hour later the truck drove through the area again, this time headed south, witnesses said. Some of the witnesses said the truck was occupied by two women. Speaking through a Spanish translator, Dustrol employee Oscar Anaya-Bautista identified the driver as Morgan, who was in the courtroom during the hearing.

Killed at the scene were Rolland G. Griffith, 24, El Dorado, also a Dustrol employee, and Tyrone T. Korte, 30, Seneca, who worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Dustrol employee Curtis Delzell said he was struck on the left leg by the truck as he jumped out of its way seconds before Korte and Griffith were hit. He said he "abandoned" a remote control device he was using to operate machinery and the device shattered the truck's front windshield.

Delzell said he looked down the highway and "saw something I'll never forget for the rest of my life."

An investigation revealed that the truck accelerated from 33 mph to 47 mph seconds before the workers were hit and killed, said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Kristian Keberlein.

Morgan was arrested after leading another Kansas Highway Patrol trooper on a car chase in Osage County. Morgan's 26-year-old daughter, Sabrina, who was in the truck with her, was not charged.

Morgan's Topeka attorney, Billy Rork, noted witnesses' discrepancies in describing the truck and its occupants. He argued that evidence presented by assistant district attorneys Dave Melton and Eve Kemple did not raise the case to the level of second-degree murder. He cited past Kansas court cases that supported his arguments. Judge Paula Martin said she would review those cases and decide today whether Morgan will be tried on the murder charges.

Martin denied Rork's request to lower Morgan's $200,000 bond or allow her to be released on her own recognizance.


Boston_Corbett 10 years ago

Judge Martin is a good judge. Give it a rest.

Confrontation 10 years ago

Judge Paula Martin will most likely claim that the victims played an active role in their own deaths.

ebyrdstarr 10 years ago

Where there is more than one victim, it's pretty common for a judge to order the sentences to run consecutively. But, of course, you never know.It's true that people generally do not serve the entire sentence because they earn what are called good time credits for good behavior in prison. The maximum possible is 20% (though this might be a 15% max offense). So if she is sentenced to 27.5 years, she would have to serve about 22 years of that at least. (Barring any new legislation or a pardon or commutation from the governor.) .

navyjayhawk 10 years ago

Where results for the driver's drugs/booze tests ever posted @ LJW? 'Cause it sounds like she may have been a bit chemically altered....

katibeth 10 years ago

I just want both Ron and Ty's families to keep their heads up becuase whether it is in this trial or when her time comes she will face the punishment for her actions. Nothing we can do now will bring either one of them back, but something needs to be done to this woman. Ron was a very close family friend, and he was taken from us way too young for a senseless act of stupidity and violence. I have other friends and family that works construction and it scares me that there are people in this world who have that little reguard for human life. This woman needs to be charged with two counts of murder. That's exactly what this was MURDER!

bd 10 years ago

I hope she gets life!Too bad we can't hang'm anymore!

FSG_Castleman 10 years ago

On behalf of Rolland Griffith's family........ There are hopes that justice and the legal system will do the right thing and she will get what she has coming to her when all is said and done because no matter what we do to her it wont give us our loved on back............ we can just hope that since she is facing the charges that she is facing when she gets out that she gets out somewhere far away and stays away and maybe she will have learned some sort of lesson and not put more families through what our family as well as Tyrone Korte's family has had to go through in result to her negligence. For all of you out there who read this and have supported both our family and Korte's family through out this Thank you........... May God Bless You All!!!!!

jayhawker2008 10 years ago

I hope Judge Martin gets it right this time- this lady needs to get life plus! And why is the daughter not charged? She could have done something, anything! And they said she sped from 33 to 47! If that were my mom doing that, I would have at least jerked the wheel!

wysiwyg69 10 years ago

even the maggots will spit out your rotten guts, die in a worse place than hell @itch!

bearded_gnome 10 years ago

with these charges, this wench will be released some day. where will she be released?!?!? threw a cup of coffee, and the remote shattered the windshield. seems this was beyond "wreckless" but should have been charged as intentional? guess its too late to dig up other charges? this woman shouldn't see the light of day as a free woman again. yes I know i am prejudging her; I'm not on her jury!

bearded_gnome 10 years ago

given the evidence in this article, why was she only charged with wreckless second degree murder?!? she can't do life with the current charges. if memory serves, the best we can hope for is fifteen years--somebody check that? ***FSG-Castleman,I'm praying for you and the families. this was a completely obscene way for them to day and the other to be injured. God keep you in your mourning.

bearded_gnome 10 years ago

thanks for the numbers. what are the chances she will:be sentenced concutively?do her full time?--even at 27.5 years, that seems to translate in today's reality to 15-20 years in stir I think. so, she'll still outlive her sentence most likely.

monkeyspunk 10 years ago

"given the evidence in this article, why was she only charged with wreckless second degree murder?!?"Unfortunately, the DAs office knows this county and the judges and the possible jurors too well. They know that if they have to prove intent, they are going to fail, especially in this case. Maybe in Shawnee or Johnson this would be a Second Degree murder charge with subsection "a" or intentional, but not in Douglas. Really though, they chose a charge they feel will stick, and won't require Douglas jurors to think about the charges too much. FYI:21-3402: Murder in the second degree. Murder in the second degree is the killing of a human being committed: (a) Intentionally; or (b) unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Murder in the second degree as described in subsection (a) is a severity level 1, person felony. Murder in the second degree as described in subsection (b) is a severity level 2, person felony. What she is being charged with is basically the third most severe charge they can come up with, right behind 2nd Degree A and First Degree.

tunahelper 10 years ago

she is gonna burn in hell.obama bin laden is going to lose.

Jaylee 10 years ago

every article ousts new information. this one states her truck actually accelerated!?!?!!you've got to be kidding me if you think a crazy out-of-state woman came through our town, (probably wasnt paying any attention the first time she came through) had a coffee cup thrown at her car, to which she turned around and came back to strike three workers, killing two was in any way an accident.this was no accident.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

Rather than wasting your bile on Judge Martin with your tired take on that stat rape case, you might want to save some for, you know, the prosecution in that case? The ones that simply failed to respond to the defense motion for sentence reduction? Indicating to the judge that they had no objection to the reduced sentence? You know, sheer, utter incompetence?

ebyrdstarr 10 years ago

bearded_gnome, that 15 years is just on one count of reckless 2nd degree. Her criminal history score will only apply to one count, so the sentence for the additional count will max out at just about 10 years. Then assuming I'm right about the level of the ag battery, she could get another 2 1/2 years on that. So the total sentence could be about 27 1/2 years if all the counts are run consecutively.

morganlefay 10 years ago

This loser woman is nothing but a useless piece of protoplasm that is breathing our air and drinking our water. She needs to meet the same fate of the people she deliberately ran over and killed. She belongs nowhere but in hell.

motherof4 10 years ago

Morgan needs to spend the rest of her life in jail for what she did! Judge Martin did the right thing! GOD Bless those lives that were taken in such a senseless manner!

bearded_gnome 10 years ago

thanks ebyrd... and monkeyspunk. I agree with you that this is probably the best they could hope to get past a dg co jury. now, that's sad. life is cheaper here in larryville. with the evidence of the coffee and the rmote and the person with the stop sign, sure does sound like intent. maybe we need better jurers. hmmmmmmmm.

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