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Jury could be selected today in Morris trial

Opening statements scheduled for Friday

Opening statements scheduled for Friday

January 10, 2008

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - A jury should be selected 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, State's Attorney Charles Strong said Wednesday afternoon.

Opening statements are set for Friday, and the state will begin presenting its evidence Monday.

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 in the death 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 cab driver to drive him across the state line into Pennsylvania and back into Maryland before the taxi crashed and Morris was captured.

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Morris, 22, of Baltimore, was serving an eight-year sentence for assault and weapons convictions when Wroten was killed. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if Morris is convicted of first-degree murder.

Jury selection began Monday.

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