An attorney argued Wednesday that a 53-year-old woman convicted of striking and killing two highway workers with her truck south of Lawrence in 2007 did not receive a fair trial.
Carl Folsom is representing Ramona I. Morgan in her civil case against the state alleging she is wrongfully imprisoned. He said several factors, including the jury instructions, created a prejudice against Morgan during her 2008 trial in Douglas County.
Jurors convicted Morgan on two counts of reckless second-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery, and she is serving a 26-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors accused Morgan of driving recklessly around a flagger on Sept. 11, 2007, through a construction zone on U.S. Highway 59 and accelerating to 51 mph before hitting the two workers, Tyrone Korte, 30, and Rolland Griffith, 24. But Morgan has claimed she became scared that morning because she thought people has been chasing her for two days across Missouri and Kansas, shooting at her truck and trying to rob her.
One of Folsom arguments Wednesday was that jurors should have had the option to convict Morgan under a definition of involuntary manslaughter stating that the deaths occurred “during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.” He said this would have presented an alternative to second-degree murder, which is a more serious crime.
But Eve Kemple, an assistant Douglas County district attorney, said jurors did have the option of convicting Morgan under a different definition of involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide, which is a misdemeanor. Yet, they still reached a verdict of second-degree murder, she said.
District Judge Paula Martin will hearing arguments in the civil case at 3:30 p.m. Friday.