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Judge Tosses Case Against Driver In FL Officer Deaths

Judge Tosses Case Against Driver In FL Officer Deaths

Officer David Curis (Left) and Officer Jeffrey Kocab (Right)

Tampa Bay Tribune via YellowBrix

October 29, 2010

TAMPA – A judge has dismissed the federal case against Cortnee Brantley, who authorities say was the driver during a traffic stop that left two Tampa police officers dead.

Brantley, 22, was charged with failing to report a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. She had been free on bail.

Police say Brantley was driving the 1994 Toyota Camry pulled over by Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab in East Tampa on June 29; Dontae Morris was her passenger.

Morris, 25, is charged in state court with first-degree murder in the officers’ deaths.

Authorities say Brantley drove away after the shootings and later exchanged texts with Morris.

But at a hearing today, U.S. District Judge James Moody said prosecutors had to prove Brantley acted to conceal the felony in order to support the charge.


In a seven-page order issued hours later, Moody concluded none of Brantley’s actions concealed the possession of a firearm or ammunition by Morris, a convicted felon.

Federal prosecutors haven’t decided whether to appeal.

“We’re reviewing the judge’s order at this time,” said U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill.

The Hillsborough County state attorney’s office has not decided whether to charge Brantley in state court, spokesman Mark Cox said.

Screen_shot_2010-10-29_at_8

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor badge is covered with a black and blue stripe as she addresses the media during a news conference Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Tampa, Fla. [AP]

“We’ve been in contact with the Tampa Police Department, and we’re reviewing the case,” Cox told The Tampa Tribune.

In arguing for the federal indictment to be dismissed, defense attorney Grady Irvin said the case should be handled in state court. He contended Brantley has a Fifth Amendment right not to give authorities information about the slayings because doing so might implicate her in state crimes, such as being an accessory after the fact or tampering with evidence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston said Brantley hid the commission of a federal crime.

According to documents, Morris sent Brantley a text after the shooting telling her to “just lean bak stay loyal.”

“Of course,” responded Brantley. “Til death do us part.”

Moody ruled the texts weren’t enough to support the charge: “An act of concealment must be carried out, not merely talked about.”

Preston said Brantley removed evidence and a witness – her car and herself – from the scene. He also said the scene was disturbed when the car came in contact with the officers’ bodies.

Moody found the government presented no evidence Brantley altered, cleaned or tried to hide the car, “or even attempted to delay law enforcement in any way from locating the vehicle (other than leaving the location of the shooting).”

To support the criminal charge, the judge said at the hearing, the prosecution had to show more than the fact that Brantley failed to tell authorities about Morris.

“She’s not required to tell,” Moody said.

“Yes, she is,” Preston said. “She still has a duty to report. It’s just not a crime until there’s an act of concealment.”

When Brantley texted that she would be loyal, “she is agreeing to affirmatively conceal the crime,” Preston argued.

Moody also said Brantley’s refusal to divulge Morris’ name “is not actively concealing.”

Preston said courts have ruled that concealing a perpetrator’s identity satisfies the requirement. He said Brantley “absolutely, I’d say over 100 times, refused” to name Morris.

That’s not a crime, Moody ruled, citing the Fifth Amendment.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dread27

    almost 4 years ago

    1734 Comments

    These judges just don't get it!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    DestructoJr

    almost 4 years ago

    76 Comments

    Yep...she assists in killing two police officers then continues to mooch off of taxpayers with a public defender and soaking up all the government assistance possible...Id be willing to bet she has never had a job in her life other than sucking up government cheese

  • Soxbanner1024768_1__max50

    MoHo56

    almost 4 years ago

    92 Comments

    Refusal to divulge Morris' name "is not actively concealing" ??? Really? Then what the hell is it? Cooperation? This judge probably slept most of the way through law school and all of the way through common f&*king sense school. Unreal.

  • 375956_401447159923274_1109023972_n_max50

    Eilene

    almost 4 years ago

    18372 Comments

    This is a perfect example why every judicial system in every state, city, county should be mandated to follow the same rules of law and not set their own guidelines. Also, a perfect example of why Supreme Court justices should make their own rulings instead of giving the task to their clerks. I agree with Tatorhead, exactly welcome to the new and improved USA.

  • Pot_luck_at_work_max50

    Omarra67

    almost 4 years ago

    2284 Comments

    You got that right, tatorhead.

  • Native_clip_art_4_049_max50

    Sheriff_1

    almost 4 years ago

    8024 Comments

    Thats BS feds should go after he again after reading the ruling closely. RIP officers

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    almost 4 years ago

    Wow, how sad. RIP Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab condolences to the families

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tatorhead

    almost 4 years ago

    106 Comments

    welcome to the new and improved USA.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    almost 4 years ago

    19382 Comments

    I do understand the legal issue. She does have a duty to report but also of not incriminating herself unless she has committed a crime by concealment or aiding. Fine line here. State court will get her for better or for worse. She will not walk. Sad she is out every night while the Officer's families grieve their hearts out. Accomplice Cortnee Brantley lives at 907 N Parsons Ave, Seffer, Flordia 33584.

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    rsironron

    almost 4 years ago

    5220 Comments

    This is just plain BS.

  • Troy_police_max50

    RedSoxFan9

    almost 4 years ago

    200 Comments

    But it's fine to take an officer to court and sue him/her if they uphold and defend the law??? Why is it okay for these pieces of S**T to shhot and kill our brothers/sisters in blue???!!! These judges tat preside in these cases should be removed from the bench!!! May God Bless the officers and thier families and May God continue to Bless all of us who wear blue.

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    mkiprotection

    almost 4 years ago

    2384 Comments

    BS is right!

  • Chris_and_i_in_uniform_max50

    JP503

    almost 4 years ago

    7616 Comments

    What a bunch of lawyer BS.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    1981mardet

    almost 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    KEEP IT AT THE STATE LEVEL, CHARGE HER WITH ACCESSORY TO THE MURDER AND PUT A NEEDLE IN HER ARM,.

  • Photo__1__max50

    thestugots01

    almost 4 years ago

    192 Comments

    Your F**king kidding me right? Great justice system we have.

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