Archive for Friday, July 11, 2008

Defense says hit-and-run case should be dismissed based on double jeopardy

July 11, 2008

Charges that a woman killed two highway workers in a hit-and-run incident last year should be dismissed because of violations of double jeopardy clauses, according to a motion filed recently in Douglas County District Court.

Moreover, testimony of witnesses during a preliminary hearing last month do not support the charges against Ramona Morgan, her attorneys wrote in another motion.

Morgan, 49, is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder of the highway workers and one count of reckless aggravated battery for injuring a third worker. The incident occurred Sept. 11, 2007, on U.S. Highway 59 at Pleasant Grove.

In April, Morgan was convicted in Osage County of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude police along with two traffic violations. Prosecutors in Douglas and Osage counties said Morgan drove away from the hit-and-run scene and fled into Osage County where she was chased by the Kansas Highway Patrol and eventually stopped by placement of spike sticks on the highway.

During her Osage County trial a substantial amount of evidence in the Douglas County case was presented, Morgan's Topeka attorneys, Billy Rork and Ken Miller, wrote in their motion.

They argue that the current charges in Douglas County could have been charged as separate or alternative counts in Osage County because they were part of a continuous series of unbroken events. They wrote that Morgan was forced to present some of her defense in the Douglas County case in Osage County.

Morgan's attorneys ask the court to dismiss the Douglas County charges because they were joined in the Osage County case, which they say is in violation of double jeopardy clauses under the U.S. and Kansas constitutions.

In another motion, Morgan's attorneys argue that evidence presented by the prosecution during the preliminary hearing does not show any "wanton neglect" or "grossly negligent conduct" as needed to show reckless second-degree murder or aggravated battery.

Douglas County prosecutors have an opportunity to respond to Morgan's motions in writing and orally during a motions hearing before Judge Paula Martin on July 30. Morgan's trial is scheduled for Sept. 2.

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