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Attempted murder trial goes to Charles County jury

La Plata, MD - It was a trial originally slated to last a day and a half, but somehow morphed into a weeklong event highlighted by dramatically conflicting testimony in the attempted murder jury trial of Kenny Earl Morris, 56 of Waldorf.

After four long days of jury selection, opening arguments and testimony, Charles County assistant state’s attorneys Sarah Freeman and Constance Kopelman began gathering the voluminous array of evidence for presentation to the jury.

From grueling testimony, jurors learned that the victim, Tyrone Jeter, suffered multiple stab wounds on his back, neck, hands and arms during a violent altercation with Morris at a Bryan Court town house in Waldorf Jan. 31, 2014.

Jeter testified that Morris’ girlfriend, Patricia Lynn Johnson, also on trial for first-degree assault, kicked him while he and Morris fought over a parking space in front of the complex.

The jury heard Jeter’s testimony that when he left Johnson’s home after the attack, he discovered a broken knife blade protruding from his neck. His face was gashed open on the left cheek, one arm was bleeding profusely and he had multiple stab wounds on his back.

The jury also heard Johnson testify that she never saw a knife during the struggle between the two men. She testified that Jeter was “trying to choke Morris” during the altercation and that she thought the blood left on the scene was from them crashing into furniture during the struggle. She did admit there was blood on the carpet and that she tried to clean it up with a towel so her daughter, Brianna Williams, would not see it when she arrived home. She also said he didn’t see the knife blade sticking out of Jeter’s neck when he left the residence.

Morris did not testify during the trial.

Investigating officers stated they found the broken knife blade on the downstairs bathroom sink in the townhouse Jeter and Johnson’s sister Janice shared three doors down from where the attack took place.

Now the case is in the hands of the jury.

In her closing arguments, Kopelman called Johnson’s testimony ridiculous and said that the considerable number of photographs provided to the jury aptly illustrated the extreme violence of the attack on Jeter. She called the woman’s testimony “unbelievable” and said the attack on Jeter with a paring knife was “so violent the blade broke off in his neck.

“Think of how violent that attack had to be for the knife blade to break off in his neck,” she said.

Johnson’s attorney, Michael Lovelace, said his client did not deserve a first-degree or second-degree assault charge for merely pushing Jeter and telling him to leave their residence.

David Simpson, attorney for Morris, said the only witness to testify about the attack other than Jeter was Johnson, who said she never saw a knife during the altercation. He expressed doubt that the knife blade was even stuck in Jeter’s neck.

Freeman argued during closing that the jury has the evidence, the photos, the knife blade, the broken knife handle, and the bloody clothes.

She said, “Johnson doesn’t want to say that Morris had a knife and was stabbing Jeter. If he was choking Mr. Morris the entire time, how did Mr. Jeter get multiple stab wounds on his body?”

She said Morris’ and Jeter’s DNA was found on the knife handle, proving Morris’ hand was on the handle and Jeter’s blood as well.

“It does not matter how big the knife was,” she added. “What you have to decide is was there intent to cause injury.”

Closing arguments went late into the evening on Thursday, Feb. 5. The jury is expected to deliver its verdict Friday.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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