Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hit-and-run suspect can be tried for murder

June 5, 2008

A Douglas County judge on Tuesday ruled that a woman charged with driving into and killing two highway workers last year can be tried for murder.

Judge Paula Martin set a Sept. 2 trial date for Ramona I. Morgan.

During a preliminary hearing Monday, Morgan's attorney, Billy Rork, argued that evidence prosecutors presented did not meet the requirements of two counts of reckless second-degree murder. Martin said she reviewed case rulings cited by Rork and disagreed with him.

Martin said there was no doubt that a crime was committed and that the evidence warranted a trial. She said the crimes showed "an extreme indifference to human life."

Morgan was arrested Sept. 11, 2007, after a pickup truck twice drove through a restricted work site on U.S. Highway 59 near Pleasant Grove. During the second drive through, Rolland G. Griffith, 24, El Dorado, an employee with Dustrol Inc., and Tyrone T. Korte, 30, Seneca, who worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation, were killed.

Another Dustrol employee, Curtis Delzell, said he was struck on the left leg by the truck as he jumped out of its way seconds before Korte and Griffith were hit. Morgan is charged with reckless aggravated battery in that incident.

Morgan was later seen by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper and was stopped after a car chase in Osage County. A trooper testified that a KDOT cell phone issued to Korte was found lodged in the front of Morgan's heavily damaged truck.

The trial date is beyond the law's 90-day speedy trial deadline for someone who is in jail. Martin said the court's schedule and caseload didn't allow for meeting the deadline and that the law allows extra time to schedule a trial in those instances.

Morgan remains in the Douglas County Jail on $200,000 bond.


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