Morrow pleaded guilty to the two count indictment earlier this month, but under Alabama law the state must still prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. The jury is aware of the guilty plea and can consider it in reaching its verdict.
The state is not seeking the death penalty in this case.
Morrow is accused of forcing his way into his ex-girlfriend’s house and killing her new boyfriend, Chuck Barnes, by shooting him in the back nine times with a five-shot revolver.
The shooting took place April 17, 2007, at 2500 Cedars Road in Munford, the residence of Leigh Zajeski. She said she met Morrow at a trade day between 12 and 14 years ago, and they later entered into a romantic relationship. Morrow was married at the time, but said he was reluctant to get a divorce because his wife had health problems and needed insurance. At some point, Zajeski said she ended the relationship, but said Morrow still cut her grass for her.
Zajeski testified Tuesday, telling essentially the same story Morrow told law enforcement following his arrest. She said she was in the computer room toward the back of the house when she heard Morrow yelling at Barnes in the living room, then heard several shots coming from the kitchen. She said she ran to the kitchen and found Barnes on the floor. She said Morrow hit her in the head with the gun three times, causing her to bleed.
The injuries have affected her memory to this day, she said, and she had a hard time recalling some details of her relationship with Morrow and subsequent contact with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.
Morrow then called his daughter-in-law and son on his cell phone, but Zajeski said she could not understand what he said to either of them. The son was on the scene by the time Talladega County Sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Morrow was pointing the gun at his own head and threatening to kill himself when deputies arrived. He released Zajeski to paramedics, but refused to surrender. Crisis negotiator Kenny Archer was able to get him to calm down and surrender without further incident after a standoff lasting about two and a half hours.
At one point, Zajeski said she might have remembered an occasion where all three parties involved might have been sitting around the kitchen table, but that was probably a different day, she said. She also said she thought Barnes might have gone into the kitchen for a bottle of water when he was shot, since the refrigerator door was open and there was a bottle of water on the floor next to his body, but added she had not been in the room and did not know this for a fact.
The only witness called by the defense was Investigator Barry Kimsey, who had testified to much of the physical evidence earlier in the trial. The only question the defense attorneys asked Kimsey was about a photograph showing a wallet with some money and a driver’s license coming out of it on the floor of Zajeski’s living room.
The wallet belonged to Morrow and had been released to his son, Kimsey said.
If convicted, Morrow faces life in prison without possibility of parole.
Across the hall, another jury tried Thomas Griffith for sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. Griffith is accused of inappropriately touching a 5-year-old girl on at least three different occasions. The victim is now 8 and testified in court Tuesday.
Griffith admitted to touching the girl when he was interviewed by Talladega County Sheriff’s deputies, but his attorney argued the contact was accidental while he gave the girl piggy back rides, and he derived no sexual gratification from the act.
The jury began deliberation in that case Tuesday afternoon.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.