KBI, coroner testify in Morgan’s hit-and-run trial
The DNA of two men killed in a construction zone on U.S. Highway 59 was found on the defendant's truck, according to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist who took the stand Friday morning during the fourth day of Ramona Morgan's trial.
Morgan is charged with two counts of reckless second-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery stemming from a Sept. 11, 2007, incident in a work zone south of Lawrence that killed two construction workers and injured a third.
Karen Oyerly of the KBI testified that the DNA of Tyrone Korte, 30, was found on the hood of Morgan's truck. Korte was an inspector with the Kansas Department of Transportation. The DNA of Dustrol employee Rolland Griffith, 24, was found on the truck's windshield, Oyerly said.
Both men were killed when they were hit by a truck speeding through a closed lane of the work zone near Pleasant Grove.
On cross-examination from Defense Attorney Billy Rork, Oyerly also testified that tests performed on Morgan shortly after she was taken into custody showed she had no alcohol in her system.
Also on Friday, jurors and relatives of the victims watched a video of a Douglas County Sheriff's detective driving through the "safe lane" with workers and equipment in the same location as the day of the fatalities.
About a dozen workers can be seen working the southbound lane of the highway, where no traffic was supposed to be traveling.
Friday afternoon, Deputy coroner Altaf Hossain testified that Korte and Griffith both suffered fatal brain injuries from blunt force trauma. They also suffered other injuries, including broken legs.
Hossain said the injuries were consistent with the front-end damage he noted in the pickup truck that prosecutors contend Morgan was driving that day. The truck sustained severe hood, windsheld and bumper damage, Hossain said.
The deputy coroner also said those type of skull fractures don't occur easily, like if someone falls from a standing position.
"It has to have a severe impact," Hossain said.
Jurors also viewed the pickup truck and its damage. Authorities displayed it outside the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. The state rested its case at 2:30 p.m.
Morgan's attorney Billy Rork will present witnesses to try to build a case in her defense. His first witness is the defendant herself.
Morgan's trial started Tuesday in Douglas County District Court. It's expected to last into next week.