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Needle put Morris in hospital

August 08, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - The man accused of fatally shooting a correctional officer at Washington County Hospital had undergone surgery the day before to remove a sewing needle from his stomach, according to hospital records.

The records subpoenaed by the Washington County State's Attorney indicate that Brandon Travon Morris, 20, declined pain medication during a nurse's check Jan. 26 just hours before police allege he shot the Roxbury Correctional Institution officer who was guarding him. Jeffery Alan Wroten, 44, of Martinsburg, W.Va., died the next day.

In her last entry before the shooting, a nurse wrote Morris was "up to bathroom" complaining of only minimal pain. In her next entry, the nurse wrote about hearing shouts.

"At approximately 0500 heard shouts calling for help in RM 5006. Started down hallway, heard loud noise and nurse ... screaming to run. Security notified that inmate had shot guard. ... contacted 911. Inmate not present on unit. Code Blue was called for injured guard. Hagerstown Police Department arrived and are conducting investigation," the nurse's note states.

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Morris, who was serving an eight-year sentence for assault, robbery and handgun violations, was arrested that morning. According to a doctor's note, he was examined on the hospital's emergency-room ramp and released to a state correctional facility in Baltimore.

Officials representing the hospital said Monday they could not immediately address questions about the documents released. Messages for Washington County State's Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. were not returned.

Morris' attorneys asked in a motion filed July 28 that the court remove the death penalty as an option in Morris' case, if he is convicted. The state's practice of lethal injection, they said, amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment."

Morris faces 36 charges, including three death-penalty eligible counts of first-degree murder. One count alleges he committed premeditated murder; one count alleges he killed Wroten in the course of an escape; and the third count alleges he killed the correctional officer during a robbery.

According to notes of a psycho-social assessment, Morris was "calm," "conversive" and cooperative Jan. 25, the day he was admitted.

Hospital records indicate "he was walking today at the prison when he believes he was stabbed in the right upper quadrant by an unknown object."

Before his surgery, Morris apparently complained of no other symptoms, and he was listed as being in satisfactory condition, records state.

A sewing needle with an eye was removed from Morris' liver during a procedure Jan. 25, and he was given morphine, Dilaudid and Ativan for pain, according to records. Nursing staff also administered Zofran and Ancef through a tube in Morris' left hand.

"The patient tolerated the procedure well," a record of the surgery states.

According to its Web site, Zofran is used to treat nausea and vomiting. Prescribing information provided by SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Ancef, indicates the drug is used to treat infection.

Morris had no history of medical problems or allergies, the nursing records state. At the time of his admission to the hospital, Morris told staff he was not on medications and he did not smoke.

A nurse changed Morris' dressing in the hours before the shooting because he had informed staff that it had fallen off.

The wound was clean, and Morris was "tolerating a diet," a doctor wrote in his examination after Morris' arrest. The document notes the hospital planned "to let the police take the prisoner to a state facility in Baltimore where he will be followed by the house physician."

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