Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Driver faces murder charges

May 21, 2008

A woman charged with striking and killing two highway workers is expected to make her first appearance in Douglas County District Court today.

Ramona I. Morgan, 48, is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder. On Tuesday afternoon, she arrived at Douglas County Jail from Osage County, where earlier in the day she'd been in court.

An Osage County judge had sentenced her to seven months in prison for aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude police. Morgan, however, has been in jail since her arrest after the highway workers' death Sept. 11, 2007.

So she's already served more time in jail than the length of her sentence, and Judge Phillip Fromme gave her credit for that time. The judge also ordered her to pay $60 fines for each of two misdemeanor traffic convictions for not using a turn signal and failure to maintain a single lane.

The Osage County convictions stem from a high-speed chase that occurred after a fatal hit-and-run in Douglas County. A truck matching the description of Morgan's drove through a construction zone on U.S. Highway 59 near Pleasant Grove.

It then was spotted in Osage County by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who had been alerted to the fatalities.

Morgan also is charged in Douglas County with reckless aggravated battery with a deadly weapon for an injury to a third highway worker.

In the Osage County case, defense attorney Billy Rork wanted to use what is known as the "compulsion" defense in his final arguments to the jury. He would have argued that what she did in Kansas was a continuation of Morgan's fear for her life because of incidents she claimed occurred in Missouri the day before. Rork also said Morgan wasn't sure the trooper who chased her was a law enforcement officer.

However, the judge did not allow that defense.

Morgan showed no emotion during her sentencing and declined the judge's offer to make a statement.

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