Archive for Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Driver given 26 years for killing 2 highway workers on US 59

Ramona Morgan was sentenced Wednesday to serve 26 years in prison for striking and killing two highway workers south of Lawrence in September 2007.  Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin handed down the sentence Wednesday afternoon.

Ramona Morgan was sentenced Wednesday to serve 26 years in prison for striking and killing two highway workers south of Lawrence in September 2007. Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin handed down the sentence Wednesday afternoon.

November 12, 2008, 4:28 p.m. Updated November 12, 2008, 5:50 p.m.

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Washington woman sentenced to 26 years in prison for killing highway workers

Ramona Morgan was sentenced to more than 26 years for the Highway 59 deaths of two construction workers. Enlarge video

Ramona Morgan found guilty

Ramona Morgan was found guilty of killing two men and injuring a third when she drove her truck through a construction zone on U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence on Sept. 11, 2007.

Mark Griffith Sr. hugs his sister, Patricia Castelman, after the sentencing of Ramona Morgan in the death of Griffith's son, Rolland Griffith. Morgan was sentenced to 26 years for killing Griffith and Ty Korte on Sept. 11, 2007, as they worked on U.S. Highway 59.

Mark Griffith Sr. hugs his sister, Patricia Castelman, after the sentencing of Ramona Morgan in the death of Griffith's son, Rolland Griffith. Morgan was sentenced to 26 years for killing Griffith and Ty Korte on Sept. 11, 2007, as they worked on U.S. Highway 59.

After being scolded by a judge because she wasn't listening to victims' family members, Ramona Morgan was ordered Wednesday to serve 26 years in prison for running over and killing two highway workers in 2007.

Morgan, 49, was convicted last September of two counts of reckless second-degree murder. A 12-person jury found she was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2007, deaths of Ty Korte, 30, and Rolland Griffith, 24. The workers were hit and killed by Morgan's pickup truck in a U.S. Highway 59 construction zone near Pleasant Grove, which is south of Lawrence.

The Chewelah, Wash., woman was ordered to serve consecutive prison sentences of 190 months and 117 months for the two murder convictions and eight months in prison for an aggravated battery conviction for injuring a third worker, Curtis Delzell.

"We did get what we asked for. It was pretty much the most that we could get with these charges," said assistant Douglas County district attorney David Melton, who prosecuted the case with assistant district attorney Eve Kemple. "We wish we could've gotten more."

As the victims' family members were delivering tearful comments before the sentence was handed down, Morgan sat with the back of her chair turned slightly away from those speaking. At one point, Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin interrupted a speaker and told Morgan she needed to listen to the comments.

But, Morgan barked back, "I'm not guilty, and I don't want to listen to it."

Dozens of family, friends and Kansas Department of Transportation workers packed the courtroom. Many said they were disgusted by Morgan's demeanor in court.

"She still has no remorse for anything," said Mark Griffith Sr., Rolland Griffith's father, after the sentencing. "At least we got the maximum that we could get on it."

During Wednesday afternoon's hearing, Martin denied several motions filed by Morgan's attorney, Billy Rork, of Topeka. Rork asked a new trial be granted - or the verdicts thrown out altogether. Rork claimed several elements of the trial unfairly prejudiced the jury against his client.

During the jury trial, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers testified that Morgan accelerated up to 51 mph when she hit the two workers south of Lawrence. Witnesses also testified that Morgan drove through the 2-mile work zone twice that morning, narrowly missing some workers while driving north and then making the fatal strikes while headed south.

Morgan said a gang of robbers was harassing her as she was trying to drive from central Missouri to Washington. She said that when a construction worker started banging a stop sign on her truck she thought she was under attack. Morgan said she hit the gas out of fear and continued south through the construction area. She contended her pickup struck orange barrels, not people.

In addition to Wednesday's sentence, Morgan also has an Osage County felony conviction for eluding law enforcement, stemming from a chase after she struck the two highway workers. Kemple said Morgan also has other misdemeanor convictions in Washington state.

A civil lawsuit has been filed against her by Amanda Hopper, a construction worker who hit Morgan's truck with a stop sign Sept. 11, 2007. Hopper's claiming she was injured when Morgan's truck struck her. A court date has not been set. Prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Morgan in connection with Hopper's injuries.

Comments

frank mcguinness 6 years, 6 months ago

Cheeseburger...Insanity and Mental Illness are not the same. Mental illness can include paranoia, schizophrenia, being delusional. Insanity is completely different. Please review a dictionary for a complete analysis.

Beth Bird 6 years, 6 months ago

That sentence is too light for a double murder. I don't feel that justice has been served in this case.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

Asa highly respected criiminal defense attorney, this is not one of Billy Rork's proudest moments.

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 6 months ago

My sympathy to the families of those killed and injured.It is unfortunate that by only driving through this state, we are now obligated to spend over a half million Kansas tax dollars to incarcerate her. We should have routed her through Missouri.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 6 months ago

Hopefully, this will bring some closure for the family.

justthefacts 6 years, 6 months ago

I hope the families who lost loved ones get some kind of closure or peace from this verdict and sentence.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

Silly me, thinking that someone who kills two people for no apparent reason and then rants and raves about her paranoid delusions might be mentally ill.But I guess for the ranters and ravers on this forum, they are only comfortable in their ranting and raving if they can label their target as being wantonlyand intentionally "evil." Sorry, but I don't share in your superstitious claptrap.1. do you even understand what the insanity defense is? it has two possible conditions under it: she didn't understand that what she was doing was wrong; or, she couldn't stop herself from doing it. she didn't fit those conditions, as assessed by those who do that! you want to substitute your judgment for their practiced hand?again, now confirmed by this haughty passage of yours, you think you know better than the collective legal precedence applicable in Kansas! pretty amazing. ya' know Boozo, you really need to leave here, quit bothering us, buy your own island out in the pacific, and rule it according to your eutopian, bizaro, ideals. in other postings you've presumed yourself smarter than the founders of our country! so, why in heck do you stay? and, if those two workers' families read this, you add to their pain. haughty, heedless of causing others pain, sounds evil to me.

justthefacts 6 years, 6 months ago

Regardless of this woman's mental state, or what caused it, she is clearly a very real danger to society. Even given her stated belief she was being chased and thought she hit barrels not humans, it is very telling indeed that she has not at any point acknowledged that she had in fact hit and killed these individuals. Given that fact, I highly doubt she will ever be capable of functioning in the sense that she will (a) admit she killed human beings and (b) feel/be truly sorry for it. That alone is good reason to lock her up for the rest of her life - so she cannot take any more innocent lives - for whatever reason(s). It may be interesting to see how well she does in jail/prison. Wonder if her belief that some gang of robbers (whom no one else can see) are after her will abate or increase in strength, and how well the other prisoners will react to her/it?

KansasPerson 6 years, 6 months ago

Hi Just_Another -- me again! Just so you know, I'm not trying to pick a fight; I'm honestly interested.Okay. You said:"KansasPerson- no, I don't believe in the concept of "evil." Whatever warped this woman's mind enough to cause her to do what she did, I have no way of knowing, but I can't imagine why anyone would "want" to be that way- her life is most certainly miserable, and not likely to improve. All we can do is keep from inflicting any more harm on others."I am going to assume from this (correct me if I'm wrong) that someone who is "evil" (if there were such a thing) would necessarily be someone who "wanted" to be that way -- is that what you're saying?Or are you just saying that "evil" (if it existed) would be a matter of choice, while the kind of bad behavior we've been reading about here would be caused by outside influences or heredity or whatever?If I follow this to the logical conclusion, it seems you're saying that no one who does really bad stuff is doing it by their own free will. Is this true?And if that is indeed your thought -- does that also apply to good behavior? Is that also not due to our choices, but to our upbringing or other outside influences?Thanks!-- KP

Deja Coffin 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree the sentence is light but I do hope the families will be able to get some kind of peace from this.

AverageCitizen 6 years, 6 months ago

Bozo- Let's assume she thought she was being chased. Unless the men she ran over were the ones she thought were chasing her, she put her own interest in front of everyone's safety. If she thought it was an accident, why is she so indifferent to these young mens lost lives? I have no way of knowing if this woman just made up this story to excuse her behavior, just to get off. Did she ever go to the police to report being chased? She thought they were orange barrels? Give me a break! There are a lot of screwy people out there that have screwy ideas but are NOT insane (knowing right from wrong.) A woman who feels no guilt or remorse over killing two people and doesn't want to listen to family members reaction to her act is a danger to society.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

KansasPerson-- no, I don't believe in the concept of "evil." Whatever warped this woman's mind enough to cause her to do what she did, I have no way of knowing, but I can't imagine why anyone would "want" to be that way-- her life is most certainly miserable, and not likely to improve. All we can do is keep from inflicting any more harm on others.

4thgencowgirl 6 years, 6 months ago

My sympathy still goes out to the family and my prayers are with them that this does ease the pain some. I am a big believer as to "what goes around comes around" and may she get hers in prison. Inmates can be rough.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

I didn't say she is insane. But your last post is very clearly a description of someone who is extremely mentally ill, to the point of committing homicide and being unable to even acknowledge that fact.

KansasPerson 6 years, 6 months ago

Just_Another, I'm interested in what you say -- do you believe there is no such thing as "evil?" (referring to your "superstitious claptrap" comment earlier)Even the best in the field admit that there are diagnoses that are not amenable to treatment, are not traceable to any organic source, and are not explainable by any environmental factors -- if there's a difference between a sociopath (as described that way) and a just plain "evil" person, I'd like to hear it.

frank mcguinness 6 years, 6 months ago

Light or not it is in essence a death penalty (well deserved) as I sincerely doubt she will see much beyond 76 years old. Even with early release she's looking at 20+. That certainly will not bring the victims familys loved ones back but hopefully she will never kill again.

Confrontation 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm surprised Judge Paula gave her anything other than a slap on the wrist. Oh, I guess she's not a rapist, so she's considered an actual criminal.

lubyloo 6 years, 6 months ago

Too bad she didn't get more time in prison. Hopefully, she'll die in prison soon so she doesn't cost the state more money.

frank mcguinness 6 years, 6 months ago

The woman is obviously loony with her conspiracy theorys. The death penalty is for the INTENT to kill. Although I refuse to defend her actions as she took 2 humans lives she is clearly out of her rocker and therefore deserves to be in jail for the rest of her life.

mightyquin 6 years, 6 months ago

Till she shows some kind of regret or remorse they shouldn't even consider early release. She is a whack job that just needs to be kept locked up.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

the charges against her didn't have life or the death penalty as possible sentences. ***again I ask:in the event she makes it to release, where's she released? where is she going to be freed if say in 22-years she's out with a little "good behavior time?"and, where is her loonie daughter living, I heard she's in lawrence somewhere. so if the acorn stays here, she might bring her mom here? and, the acorn might just grow up to be just like dear ol' Mom!

pissedinlawrence 6 years, 6 months ago

OMG I cant believe she only got 26 years?!?!?!Why didnt she get LIFE or Death row???What a piece of crap!

somebodynew 6 years, 6 months ago

b_g - to answer some of your questions - I think she would be released to the county of conviction (probably some post release supervision thing) unless other arrangements are made.As far as daughter, yes she is living here, but from what I can tell (and have observed in court proceedings) she seems to have gotten more adjusted to "normal" life. No idea if she will stick around that that Mommy Dearest is going away for a long time, so not too sure that is a valid worry.

buckethead 6 years, 6 months ago

am usually pretty quiet on here, but gotta say she should have gotten more time. never did believe her story and probably never will. the men whos lives she took were just doing a job. its very sad

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

As has already been pointed out, she is clearly extremely mentally ill, and a danger to the rest of society. Until she can be determined not to be a danger to society, she should remain in the appropriate custody.But does anybody posting here really believe that she chose to be mentally ill? That she wants to be feared and imprisoned by the rest of society? If you believe that, can you explain why anyone would choose that fate for themselves?

roseprincess1980 6 years, 6 months ago

I am glad that she got the max for killing my cousin Ronnie! We miss him very much, he was always smiling, full of life and laughter. As funny as it sounds I am sure he was around us all today! Playing jokes on me, I could hear him laughing. My phone kept ringing all day long, only one ring so the i.d. wouldn' t pick up, and my smoke alarm kept going off! Maybe I sound a little crazy now, but if you knew Ronnie, you could sure believe it was him today! We miss you Ronnie, but we know you are still around us!!!

Joe Hyde 6 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Morgan impresses me as being a laboratory specimen sociopath. She now gets to spend the next 26 years living in a state-owned test tube.

AverageCitizen 6 years, 6 months ago

Bozo on the Bus- She is NOT mentally ill. If she were, she would have been declared incompetent. Do not confuse mental illness with Ms. Morgan's indifference and being self absorbed. She's a lethal version of the kid who wants another roll of the dice because the first one "shouldn't count"! It's all about HER in her world. A long sentence is just what society needs.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

wow Boozo,this post really takes the cake. your pride is usually bad, but assuming you know better than the authorities whether an insanity plea would've been appropriate for her? I suppose you know this because of your super powers! you can see through walls? the system decided she was culpible for her actions. having a mental disorder does not automatically qualify one for the insanity defense. there were actions she took suggesting that she had enough reality contact to know what she was doing was wrong. bingo, no insanity defense. ***thanks Somebodynew,so it sounds like in 20-25 years if she is still walking and breathing she'll be released in DGCO. and I wonder what kinda vehicles we'll have around then. hope you're right about her daughter serena or whatever her name is.

sharper 6 years, 6 months ago

For all the people complaining about the time that she got... she got as much time as she could serve with what she was convicted of. Do I wish she lives out the rest of her days in jail? Yes. Most definitely. But she was sentenced to maximum, and I appreciate that.

Solemn 6 years, 6 months ago

Are you serious? 26 years for 2 counts of reckless second degree murder and aggravated battery? I was driving down 59 that down on the way to class! In fact a friend was two cars ahead of me! That sentence is way to light for that those kind of charges! There's people incarcerated for life for one count of murder, that'swhat she needs to get: LIFE! I can't believe that is the most the prosecutor could get, and unfortunately I can't look up the law on the max sentencing. The Judge needs to become more harsh for a violent crime (of which I'd consider 2 counts of murder)~Casey-Jack

black_butterfly 6 years, 6 months ago

I just hope that the daughter does not end up killing or injuring someone in the future, since they didn't hold her accountable for any part of this tragic crime.

mom2boy 6 years, 6 months ago

i rode to court with this person before she went to court for the murders. she is very ill and really kept saying she thinks gangsters are after her and her daughter. they followed her all the way to lawrence scary person but i could see she has many problems which doesn't give her the right for what she did i hope she doesn't get out she has way to many mental illness(crazy)

ebyrdstarr 6 years, 6 months ago

Consumer, all female inmates in Kansas serve their sentences in Topeka. No other prison in the state houses women.

lance1jhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

Good ridance to bad trash... She should have been given a lethal injection.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

What difference does it make how she became mentally ill? Either she is, or she isn't. Clearly she is, which makes her a danger to society, and the points in my previous post remain valid.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Silly me, thinking that someone who kills two people for no apparent reason and then rants and raves about her paranoid delusions might be mentally ill. But I guess for the ranters and ravers on this forum, they are only comfortable in their ranting and raving if they can label their target as being wantonly and intentionally "evil." Sorry, but I don't share in your superstitious claptrap. Despite the silly distinctions made by our court system, she's mentally ill, from whatever cause, and as long as she remains so, she belongs in some form of incarceration. Hopefully, that will be where she can receive some sort of treatment-- if not for her sake, at least for the sake of the guards who will have to deal with her the rest of her life.

4paz 6 years, 6 months ago

She probably is delusional, because any reasonable person who thought someone was trying to kill them would call 911 or drive to the nearest police station, or they would have stopped and asked nice highway workers to help them, instead of running over them. She will be in her 70's when she gets out. And I doubt if she gets out early. She clearly has anger management problems and she shows no remorse. She'll serve the whole sentence. And if she picks fights with other inmates, she won't make it out alive anyway. Not to mention she doesn't appear to be the healthiest person just looking at her pictures. Living to 74 may be a stretch.

yankeevet 6 years, 5 months ago

Mentally Ill???? Why does she have a drivers license; ??Get a rope; mule; and a good ole oak tree..................frontier justice............

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