Thursday, April 12, 2012

Talladega, AL: Murder trial of Lincoln woman may got to jury

TALLADEGA — The murder trial of a Lincoln woman accused of murdering her boyfriend in 2010 will likely go to the jury sometime today, Talladega County Circuit Judge Julian King told the courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

The state is expected to call two more witnesses, a forensic toxicology expert at 9 a.m., followed by an eyewitness who had to be hospitalized Tuesday morning. If this witness is still not available in person, a deposition will be presented instead.

The defendant, Linda Morris, is charged with killing Shawn Monroe in the early morning hours of May 29, 2010, at the house where Monroe rented a room from Annie “Mama Bell” Thornton. According to evidence presented Tuesday by the state medical examiner, Monroe died of massive blood loss after Morris allegedly stuck a kitchen knife two inches deep into his forearm and carved an arc about halfway around the arm, cutting the radial artery into.

The radial artery is the primary blood vessel delivering blood to the lower arm and hand. Blood would have come spurting out of the wound every time his heart beat, according to expert testimony.

Monroe also suffered a much more shallow knife wound to his back, one to his lower lip and mouth, and two on his chin. One of the blows to his chin was forceful enough that the knife blade actually penetrated his jawbone and dislocated his jaw.

The victim also had cocaine and alcohol in his system, although the examiner speculated that he had stopped drinking some time before he was killed.

Defense attorney Jon Adams disputed this opinion during cross examination.

The other forensics expert testifying Tuesday said that blood on a knife recovered from Morris’s home and on Morris’s tennis shoes was a genetic match for Monroe’s.

Thornton testified Tuesday that Morris had come to her sometime the day before the stabbing and asked her to “make him give me my $20 back.” Thornton initially didn’t know who she was referring to, and when she was told Morris was talking about Monroe, she said he wasn’t home at the time.

She said she slept through most of what happened that night, and was not awakened until Monroe started banging on her bedroom door saying “Mama, she cut me.”

Thornton said she did not realize how badly Monroe was hurt and told him to go outside until the bleeding stopped. She then went across the hall, to the room where Willie “Shorty” Jenkins stayed, and told him to call 911.

Jenkins did so, and testified to that Tuesday afternoon, although he too said he had slept through everything up until that point.

When Lincoln police and fire medics arrived on the scene, Monroe was lying in the driveway in a large pool of blood. He was combative, possibly as a result of having lost so much blood. Morris was also outside the house.

According to Lincoln Police Investigator Shannon Hallmark, Morris told her “he hit me and I stabbed him.”

Morris gave police consent to search her home, which is just down the road, and the knife was found in a sheath on the kitchen counter.

Most of the rest of the testimony taken Tuesday involved the chain of custody for the physical evidence in the case.

Monday, Donquarrius Barr, a friend of Monroe’s, testified that he had spent May 28, between just after 10 p.m. until about 4:30 a.m. with Monroe. He said he witnessed one verbal confrontation between the defendant and the victim, and said Morris seemed to be following them at one point. Monroe said on several occasions that he did not want to go home because he was afraid of her.

Adams asked both Barr and Jenkins if they knew someone named Donald “Little Juan” Richardson. Both men said they did know him, but had not seen him the night leading up to the killing.

Based on Adams’ opening statement and some of the questions asked of the state’s witnesses during cross examination, the defense may argue for either self-defense or manslaughter based on a sudden heat of passion.

If convicted of murder, Morris faces 10 to 99 years or life in prison. A manslaughter conviction carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison.

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