Morris found guilty of felony murder
by Amanda Stegall
Aug 22, 2011 | 3432 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jurors in Judge David Smith's courtroom found Michael Thomas Morris Jr. guilty on all charges after their deliberations Friday.

Morris is convicted of felony murder after firing a handgun, resulting in the death of Joshua Lee Moore on Aug. 22, 2009, at the Amberwood Apartments on Tennessee Street in Cartersville. A verbal argument began when Moore arrived at the apartments that night and quickly turned physical, according to witnesses.

Attorneys for Morris claimed he acted in self-defense after Moore threw the first punch in the altercation. The prosecution, however, argued that Morris could have locked the door of the apartment he entered to retrieve the gun instead of getting the gun and returning to the parking lot where the fist fight occurred.

Morris, a confessed alcoholic and formerly convicted felon, was found guilty for charges of aggravated assault against Danny Dewayne Westbrooks, a second victim of the shooting, aggravated assault against Cheryl Newborn, Morris's ex-girlfriend, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and felony murder. A total of 12 counts were filed, all variations of the listed charges, and the jury found Morris guilty to each. The murder charges will roll into one and, as they were charged in the indictment, carry either life or life without parole sentences, according to District Attorney Joe Campbell.

"The citizens speak for what type of conduct they are going to allow," said Campbell of the verdict. "I think in this verdict they said, resoundingly, that we cannot tolerate violent alcoholics running around with guns."

Upcoming trials

and sentence hearings

In Judge Scott Smith's court, a sentencing hearing will be held for Nicholas Tyler Cordell this week. Cordell pleaded guilty to a separate case involving armed robbery of the Banana Boat Grocery Salvage in Dec. 2010. The case presented before the court this week included charges of burglary.

Other cases to sound in Judge S. Smith's court are for Brandon Carrillo, charged with sexual battery, and Joseph Langley, charged with attempted child molestation and child molestation.

Judge Carey Nelson's court is expected to hear cases for Leonard Jackson on charges of criminal damage and Douglas James in relation to a Jan. 10 home invasion.

Trials begin at 9 a.m. in the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center at 135 West Cherokee Ave., Cartersville.