Two state’s witnesses testified Monday afternoon, and the testimony is set to resume today at 8:30 a.m. in Talladega County Circuit Judge Julian King’s courtroom.
Linda Marie Morris, 49, is accused of murdering Shawn Wendell Morris, 42, in a room at 500 Second Ave. North in Lincoln that he rented from Annie “Mama Belle” Thornton. Thornton also lived in the house, along with her son Sidney and Willie “Shorty” Jenkins. The evening before, the defendant and victim had gotten into a verbal argument in front of several witnesses regarding $20, although the details of that argument remained unclear.
Defense attorneys Jon Adams and Trina Hammonds represent Morris.
In his opening argument, Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens said he expected the evidence would show Monroe had been stabbed five times: once in the back, near his left shoulder, once underneath his chin, twice on the front of his chin and once across his arm. This last injury severed an artery and would have been the cause of death. The record will also show that Monroe had a fairly large quantity of recently ingested cocaine in his system, along with some alcohol and Valium.
Monroe’s friend Donquarious Barr spent time with Monroe prior to his murder, and was the first witness called by the state. Barr referred to Annie Thornton as his grandmother, although they are not blood relatives.
Barr said he was at his grandmother’s house the day before the murder around lunchtime. Monroe was not present, but Morris said she was going to “get him before he gets me,” he testified. Barr then went to work and came back to the house around 10 p.m.
At this point, Sidney Thornton, Sidney’s girlfriend Teresa, Jenkins, Monroe, Morris, Barr’s brother Antoine Thornton and Antoine’s wife Christie, as well as possibly one other person, were sitting on the porch drinking and talking. He said Morris was drinking Wild Irish Rose out of the bottle, and although he said he did see Monroe drinking later in the evening, he had not started yet. Barr said he was the only person there that night that was not drinking, because he was only 19 years old at the time.
At this point, a loud verbal argument broke out between Morris and Monroe over the $20. Although the argument became heated, there was no physical confrontation, he said. Eventually, Annie Thornton (who had been in bed) came out and told “everybody either to chill out or go elsewhere,” Barr testified.
Around midnight, Barr, Monroe, Sidney, Theresa and a friend named Bernard Tyree went to take Barr’s brother and sister-in-law home. Antoine is confined to a wheelchair, but does not have a ramp at his house, so he needed assistance getting in. Monroe asked if he could sleep in Antoine’s car or stay with Barr. Barr said he planned to go see his girlfriend that night, although he never made it there. After dropping them off, Tyree dropped the rest of the party off at Thornton’s house and went home.
While sitting on the porch some time later, a car drove and Monroe went to go talk to the driver. Then Morris’s daughter came to the driveway, pushed Monroe and caused him to stagger, although he did not fight back. Barr said he then told everyone to go inside.
Around 3 a.m. May 29, Barr said he and Monroe walked up to his aunt’s house up the street and saw Morris standing across the street from them under a street light. Monroe again said he was frightened, and they stayed outside the aunt’s house for about 10 to 15 minutes before Morris left. Under cross examination, Barr said his aunt was actually out of town, but they were going to see his cousin Big Man and a friend named Edonis. It was not clear if they met with these two people or not.
Eventually, they headed back to the Thornton house and watched television in Monroe’s room. Around 4 a.m., Barr left to go to the store and returned to find Monroe showering and getting ready for work the next day. Monroe again said he was afraid and did not want to be alone. Barr left and said he would come back later, but never did.
The other witness called Monday was 911 Director Victor Kennedy, who explained to the jury how the central dispatch system worked and authenticated a 911 call from Jenkins made at 5:13 a.m. May 29.
Lincoln Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene at 5:20 a.m. Giddens said Monroe was combative with the paramedics, who nevertheless were able to get wounds bandaged. Monroe had already lost a great deal of blood, however, and had a heart attack in the ambulance. He died at the hospital later that same day.
If convicted of murder, Morris faces 10 to 99 years or life in prison. If convicted of manslaughter, she faces two to 20 years in prison.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.