Prosecution gets continuance in Morris case

Published 10:53 am Friday, May 19, 2017

Less than a week before Del. Richard “Rick” Lee Morris (D-64) was to get another opportunity in court to further clear his name, his case got pushed further in time.

Last fall, Morris was charged and arrested on 14 counts of abusing a stepchild and wife. During the hearing in December, the child had admitted lying about the whole matter. Further, Morris’ wife, Kathryn, assured that no abuse had taken place as described in the charges. All but one charge of child cruelty was dismissed by a judge in what became a session closed to media. For a related story on that matter, see Page A6.

Since then, a grand jury came up with three more indictments: another for child cruelty and two for domestic assault and battery. A trial was then scheduled for May 18-19 in the Circuit Court for Suffolk.

Timothy Perry, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Hampton, asked for a continuance in the matter. This information came from documents provided by Morris’ attorney, Nicole Belote.

Among Perry’s reasons are that Morris is still charged with the aforementioned counts. Further, the Commonwealth asked for time to meet the child -— described as a victim — who he said is a material witness to the case. But that child is reportedly living in Texas with the father, Lennis Herd. Both parents had publicly stated in this newspaper that they do not believe it’s in child’s best interest to be compelled to again go on a witness stand. Also, Perry stated he has taken over the case from Shukita Massey, who is no longer employed at the Hampton CA’s office, and needs more time to prepare.

He said the Commonwealth intends to file a motion for change of venue, given Morris’ standing in Suffolk as a delegate as well as the media coverage.

The continuance was granted on May 12, but with no date yet determined.

For her part, Belote objected to the continuance noting that while the child is “a material witness,” the implication by Perry that the victim has been uncooperative is not correct. The biological parents have reportedly stated they’ve not received any correspondence or communication from the assistance CA.

Further: “Contrary to Mr. Perry’s representations, this case is far from complex as it simply involves allegations of two separate acts of abuse stemming from alleged batteries. …the Commonwealth’s case ultimately rests upon the credibility of one witness, the alleged victim.”

“Ultimately, Mr. Perry seems to be engaging in obfuscation as the Commonwealth’s Motion to Continue clouds the issues and misrepresents facts to divert attention away from his complete and utter dereliction of even the most basic elements of preparedness.”

Morris asked that court deny the CA’s request, which would enable him to his “constitutional right to a speedy trial.”