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Morris jury selection could be completed by Thursday

Inmate on trial in slaying of correctional officer in Hagerstown

Inmate on trial in slaying of correctional officer in Hagerstown

January 09, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART and ERIN JULIUS

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Jury selection was to continue today in the trial of Brandon T. Morris, a state prison inmate charged with killing a correctional officer in Hagerstown and escaping from Washington County Hospital nearly two years ago.

Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Tuesday afternoon through a spokeswoman in his Hagerstown office that jury selection was expected to be completed by Thursday, with opening statements beginning Friday.

The state is expected to call its first witness Monday, the spokeswoman said. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if Morris is convicted of first-degree murder.

The Associated Press reported that Michael said about 60 of 100 prospective jurors who were questioned individually since Monday qualified for the next round of the selection process.

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According to published reports in December, defense attorneys said they will concede most of the charges against Morris and focus on fighting the allegation of premeditated first-degree murder of Jeffery A. Wroten on Jan. 27, 2006.

Prosecutors contend Morris shot Wroten, of Martinsburg, W.Va., as part of a calculated escape plan that began when he jabbed a sewing needle into his abdomen at Roxbury Correctional Institution and sought medical help, the AP said in December.

Police allege that after the shooting, Morris took a hospital visitor briefly hostage, robbed a taxicab driver at gunpoint and forced the cabbie to drive him across the state line into Pennsylvania and back into Maryland before the taxi crashed and Morris was captured.

Morris, 22, of Baltimore, was serving an eight-year sentence for assault and weapons convictions before Wroten was killed. Jury selection began Monday.

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