Archive for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Trial in deaths of US 59 workers begins

Defense attorney: Morgan thought she struck barrels

What started as a normal day ended in the deaths of two construction workers. And on Tuesday, trial began for the woman charged with their murders.

September 2, 2008, 1:43 p.m. Updated September 2, 2008, 11:21 p.m.


What started as a normal day last September in a construction zone along U.S. Highway 59 ended in the deaths of two workers.Trial began Tuesday in Douglas County District Court for the woman prosecutors say should be held accountable.

"They were working in the safe lane where no traffic was allowed," Assistant District Attorney Eve Kemple told jurors during opening statements. "They weren't safe."

Kemple said Ramona Morgan, 49, sped through a two-mile construction zone, not once but twice, on Sept. 11, 2007, neither time following the pilot car.

Prosecutors say it was on the second pass that Morgan struck and killed 30-year-old Tyrone Korte of Seneca, an inspector with the Kansas Department of Transportation, and 24-year-old Rolland Griffith, of El Dorado, an employee of Dustrol Inc.

Morgan is standing trial on charges of reckless second-degree murder for their deaths. She also faces one count of aggravated battery, accused of injuring a third construction worker as he dove out of the way.

"She continued to accelerate into a group of six men," Kemple told jurors. "You'll hear from some of those men who were barely able to get out of the way."

Construction foreman Rollin Jensen testified that the dark-colored truck came within a couple of feet of hitting him the first time through the construction zone near Pleasant Grove, south of Lawrence. He jumped out of the way behind a piece of equipment.

When he saw the truck coming back through the area his crew was repaving roughly 45 minutes later, he tried to yell out a warning but the machinery used to repave the road was too loud.

"I yelled as loud as I could to get out of the way," Jensen testified. "That vehicle came on through that lane, struck two people in the back and seemed to actually accelerate. I never saw a brake light."

But defense attorney Billy Rork told jurors that Morgan never knew she hit either of the workers.

"She did not think she struck any people," Rork said during his opening statements. "She didn't think she struck anything but two orange barrels."

Rork told jurors that Morgan also insists she drove through the construction zone only once and that she was being chased at the time by a group of people that had been following her for two days.

Rork said Morgan and her daughter, Sabrina, had called 911 the day before the fatal accident, claiming people were chasing them and shooting at them.

The two had driven from Washington state to Missouri to buy some property and Rork said Morgan was carrying $125,000 in cash.

"It's a tragedy," Rork said, "but what you have to decide is, was a crime committed?"

Testimony in the case resumes Wednesday morning.


BlackVelvet 9 years, 9 months ago

her claims of being chased are total BS. She's possessed, that much I would agree. Either way she needs to be kept away from society for a long long time.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like she was flipping out on meth to me. But that's just me. Maybe she's just plain nuts, or maybe she was plain nuts and on meth. Who knows. In any case, she should be considered dangerous to the general public.

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

On the other hand, Judge Martin may infact give her probation with time served. Would that surprise anyone?

roseprincess1980 9 years, 9 months ago

Ronnie (Rolland) is my cousin, we all miss him very much. My 11 year old son is still going through a depression a year later. He spent the weekend with Ronnie just before this happened. It seemed like he was always around him. I don't think this woman should ever get the see the outside world again. I hope that she dies in prison for what she has done to this family, my son especially, and to Tyrone's family.

domino 9 years, 9 months ago

If she believed her life was in danger and she was being chased, why would she turn around and go back in the direction the people were chasing her were coming from!!! Even if she believed her life was in danger, it does not give her a pass to endanger/injur/kill others!

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

She's really needs the Yellowhouse's mafia here too help her with her alibi's. Criminals will defend other criminal's lifestyle because they all live in an imaginary world that their mind understands totally and it makes perfect sense too them and it's perfectly logical too them; but no one normal could every buy their BS. After 20 years in jail they still seem too never get it.

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

If she was being chased, it was by the police.Lol. She was no doubt looking for the drug house that sold meth and got lost, panic set in and her monkey got to big for her too handle. Desperate, dope rage!

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

anybody know if the 9-1-1 call of the day before really exists? sounds like her lawyer is sure pushing for the insanity defense to me! $125,000? besides being: evil; deadly; creepy. she's apparently stupid! did that $125,000 really exist? or was it Monopoly money?

FMT6488 9 years, 9 months ago

Hummm ... I've never seen orange traffic control barrels that could run . . . First the defense tries to get her declared mentally unfit for trial, now shes' hitting orange traffic barrels instead of people - the spin machine is really working here!

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