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Crime & Courts

Confidante testimony: Dontae Morris says killing Jones 'a mistake'

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Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 01:05 PM
TAMPA -

Ashley Price says Dontae Morris used to call her almost every day.

And he confided in her.

Testifying in Morris' trial in the slaying of Rodney “Scarface” Jones, Price said Morris told her he shot Jones. Morris, she said, told her “he made a mistake.”

Morris is charged with murder.

Describing the killing of Jones outside the Cotton Club in West Tampa on May 31, 2010, Morris said “that he caught (Jones) outside a bar (and) shot him.”

Price, 24, who is awaiting trial on unrelated charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, appeared in court wearing a jail-issued orange jumpsuit.

Although she had said she wanted to invoke her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, that option was taken away from her when she was granted immunity from prosecution for anything she said in her testimony. If she had continued to remain silent, she could have been held in contempt. So she agreed to testify.

Her testimony was mostly monosyllabic, and she smiled nervously.

She was described by Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon as “one of the most critical witnesses in this case,” but she spent less than 30 minutes on the stand.

Under cross-examination, Price, a three-time felon and mother of four, denied receiving favorable treatment from the prosecution in her other cases in exchange for her testimony against Morris. She also denied that she hopes to receive any leniency in her pending case in exchange for her cooperation.

The trial recessed early Tuesday as the prosecution ran out of witnesses. Out-of-state witnesses expected to testify about cellphone records were not scheduled to arrive until Wednesday. The judge and lawyers were to spend the afternoon going over legal instructions for the jury.

Judge William Fuente dismissed jurors before lunch. The panel was selected in Orange County and is being kept in a local hotel.

Morris also faces murder charges in three other trials involving four victims, including Tampa police officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis, who were gunned down during a motor vehicle stop June 29, 2010.

He is also accused of murdering Derek Anderson on May 18, 2010, and Harold Wright on June 8, 2010.


esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

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Twitter:@ElaineTBO

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