Sunday, August 3, 2003

Ex-cop wants statement on sheriff's death tossed

Hearing continued to this week

The Associated Press

SOMERSET, Ky. - An ex-deputy charged in connection with the murder of the Pulaski County Sheriff has filed a motion to suppress his statements to police so they can't be used as evidence.

An attorney for Jeff Morris argued Friday that police continued questioning him about the April 13, 2002, slaying of Sheriff Sam Catron even though Morris had asked to have an attorney present. Police should have stopped interviewing Morris at that point, said his attorney, Barbara C. Carnes.

Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery argued that Morris did not make a clear, unambiguous assertion of his right not to answer questions without a lawyer present. Also, Montgomery said, Morris was not in custody at the time - so the police had no duty to advise him of his rights, even though they did.

Circuit Judge Paul Braden continued the suppression hearing until this week so that a state police officer who took part in questioning Morris, but has since retired, can be called as a witness.

State police Detective Todd Dalton has testified that Morris gave police a statement implicating himself and another man, Kenneth White, in the murder.

Morris, 36, and White, 55, both of Pulaski County, are charged with taking part in a scheme to kill Catron. Catron was running for a fifth term as sheriff when he was killed from ambush by a single shot to the head outside a rural fire station where he'd attended a community fish fry.

The two men will be tried separately beginning Sept. 2.

Morris was running against Catron. White was helping run Morris' campaign.

A third man, Danny Shelley, pleaded guilty to shooting Catron and was sentenced to life without parole for at least 25 years.

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