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Dontae Morris' attorney: Detective's probe affects sentencing

Dontae Morris' attorney: Detective's probe affects sentencing

TAMPA, Fla. (TBO.com) - Attorneys representing Dontae Morris, convicted of killing two Tampa police officers, have filed a motion to continue their client’s sentencing hearing because one of the detectives who testified against Morris is the target of a federal grand jury investigation.

The motion is the second filed since it was revealed in April that federal officials were investigating longtime Tampa police detective Eric Houston, who was fired last month. The attorney for Courtnee Brantley, who was driving the car when Morris killed two officers nearly four years ago, also has said that he might ask that the case against his client be stayed because of the investigation into Houston.

Houston was a homicide investigator who worked on some of the city’s more publicized cases, including those involving Morris, Julie Schenecker, currently on trial in the shooting deaths of her two children, and David Earl Williams, accused of killing University of Tampa student Ryan McCall in a 2009 robbery.

Houston was placed on administrative leave the day the police department was notified of a federal probe, and was fired April 24. The focus of that investigation remains a mystery. Police Chief Jane Castor said he “did not deserve to wear the uniform,” and characterized his actions as “egregious.”

Defense attorney Byron Hileman filed a motion Friday to continue a scheduled May 30 sentencing hearing for Morris, who was convicted in November of fatally shooting Tampa police officers David Kocab and Jeffrey Curtis during a traffic stop in 2010. The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty.

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