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Jury hears opening arguments in attempted murder trial

La Plata, MD - A Charles County Circuit Court jury heard opening arguments Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the attempted first-degree murder trial of Kenny Earl Morris, 54 of Waldorf, who is being tried alongside his partner, Patricia Lynn Johnson, 51, also of Waldorf, charged with first-degree assault.

Judge H. James West is overseeing the the trial.

The trial took an abnormal amount of time to start due to the selection of a jury for the case. Normally a 45-minute to an hour and a half process, selection took well over three hours. The jury composed of 10 women and four men (two of which are alternates), began hearing testimony Tuesday afternoon.

Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney Constance B. Kopelman said in opening arguments the entire scenario of events that played out in Waldorf Jan. 31, 2014 were the result of a dispute over a parking space.

Kopelman explained that the victim, Tyrone Jeter, who is the longtime partner of Johnson’s sister Janice, was sitting at home when Patricia Johnson knocked on the door, screaming at him about where he had parked his vehicle.

The two sisters live near each other in townhouses on Bryan Court in Waldorf, which have designated parking spaces and “open” spaces, she said.

After screaming at him, Kopelman stated, the woman returned to her unit three doors down.

Jeter, she explained, went out too look at what she was talking about and saw he was parked in an open space, and then knocked on Patricia’s Johnson’s front door to “talk about this.

“Patricia Johnson pushed him,” Kopelman said. “Mr. Jeter pushed her back.”

It was then that Morris, Patricia Johnson’s boyfriend, picked up a paring knife and began “violently attacking Mr. Jeter,” Kopelman told the jury.

Jeter suffered stab wounds in his back, his arms and a huge gash on his face.

The attack was so violent, Kopelman said, that the knife blade detached from its handle and remained embedded in the victim’s neck when he fled the scene.

Morris’ attorney, David M. Simpson, told the jury that over and above the “shock value” of what the state would present, “it’s very much in dispute who did what and when.”

Simpson said Jeter was accusing Patricia Lynn Johnson of assault, who he (Simpson) called a cancer survivor and a former nominee for Teacher of the Year.

Attorney Michael D. Lovelace, representing Johnson, asked the jury to pay careful attention to detail.

“What I want you to do is ask you to watch the people who testify,” Lovelace said. “Watch their mannerisms, what they say, how they act. Remember that Mr. Jeter physically knocked her down on her back after she had knee surgery.”

“The thing I want you to understand is that if Mr. Jeter stays home, none of this happens,” Simpson said. “She’s not here, the defendant’s not here, and I’m not here.”

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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