Archive for Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daughter says mom feared she was being chased on day of double fatality on U.S. 59

September 4, 2008

The daughter of a woman accused of striking and killing two highway workers with a truck testified Thursday that her mother was frightened that someone was chasing them across Missouri and Kansas.

Sabrina Morgan, 27, under subpoena from prosecutors, briefly testified in the second-degree murder trial of her mother, Ramona Morgan, about being a passenger in a truck that her mother drove on Sept. 11, 2007.

But Eve Kemple, an assistant Douglas County district attorney, never asked Sabrina Morgan if her mother struck two people while driving through a construction zone that morning on U.S. Highway 59 about 5 miles south of Lawrence.

Ramona Morgan, 49, of Washington state, faces two counts of reckless second-degree murder in the deaths of two construction workers, Tyrone Korte, 30, of Seneca, and Rolland Griffith, 24, of El Dorado.

With short answers to questions and long pauses as her eyes darted around the courtroom, Sabrina Morgan recounted how she came with her mother to buy property in Missouri, but they were upset with the condition of the land.

She said her mother also had called 911 in Missouri because she believed someone was chasing them and trying to shoot at them. The Morgans stayed the night at a Gardner hotel on Sept. 10, and Ramona Morgan believed someone was looking at their pickup truck in the parking lot.

Sabrina Morgan said she had not slept much during those days because her mother wouldn't let her rest because she said she was being chased.

Construction workers have testified that a pickup truck traveled twice through the 2-mile stretch of the U.S. 59 construction zone. On the second time through, the southbound truck struck the two workers and injured a third man near Pleasant Grove.

Two witnesses this week have identified Ramona Morgan as the driver.

Amanda Hopper, a construction flagger, said she used a stop sign to strike the passenger side headlight of the pickup truck because it passed through twice and was disobeying construction zone commands near North 900 Road and U.S. 59.

Sabrina Morgan said her mother tried to come to a stop but instead she drove around a stopped vehicle, and the construction worker, Hopper, hit the truck.

"It scared my mom. She hit the gas," Sabrina Morgan said because she believed people were after them.

In a response to a question from defense attorney Billy Rork, Sabrina Morgan said authorities took blood samples but found no alcohol or drugs present in either her or her mother.

Sabrina Morgan was originally charged with aiding a felon in Osage County, but the charges were later dropped. Ramona Morgan has been convicted in Osage County for eluding police after the alleged fatal wreck.

Sabrina Morgan also said she covered her head with a jacket after the woman struck the vehicle with the sign because she was scared. Rork asked her if she also tried to protect her mother.

"Yeah, I put a hat on my mom," Sabrina Morgan said.

Rork said that later in the trial jurors would hear a 911 call Sabrina Morgan made.

Prosecutors were scheduled to continue presenting evidence Thursday afternoon. The trial in District Judge Paula Martin's courtroom is expected to last into next week.

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