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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.


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.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Ok, so this pos drove away after the shooting and even sent/received text messages stating til death do us part, well I am fine with that give them both the death penalty and then enforce it quickly. I wish no harm come to judges or DA's, that being said if they all had a family member murdered/raped/severly mugged then perhaps they might choose to enfore tougher and enforceable laws that we already have. In this case I see no difference in the pos who pulled the trigger than the pos who drove away. Let them lean bak and stay loyal til death does them part, and soon. God Bless Leo's Curis and Kocab and their families.

  • Car6_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    horrible call and a huge dishonorment to the officers!

  • 0312091735_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Couldn't agree more! The Judge needs to rethink his position and do something else in life since he can not see that it is a conspiracy to commit murder times 2! I really am amazed to see how the justice system is turning out to be!

  • Sheriff_3_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Sounds like this judge needs voted out... This is BS and I sure hope they appeal it and get it overturned... What an injustice for two brave HEROS!!! This is very sad and she needs to be put away with her POS friend....

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    An unspeakable lack of respect for the two dead officers !!! Too mad to say much else that can be printed here .....

  • Charger_pd_max50


    almost 4 years ago



  • 120404-131505_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    looking at the picture it aapears as though there was only Brantley, 22 that was the shooter and the driver driver i could not find where the

  • 120404-131505_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    She has no evidence of being a law abiding or helpful, nor does she care take par in any successful events of the community the five years could do her good

  • 120404-131505_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    She is an accessory along as she shows par with the criminal that committed the act, and shows participation to his side. There is no evidence that she was not a part as team with eth offender nor did she consider the responsibility towards the laws over the love team influence of Dontae Morris. She made the mistake before the fact though it does not appear as though she tried to defend any moral responsibilities tell after she was, tried as an accessory

  • L_ae1b658846e2d300078fb1b39c85f297_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Can't believe this. This is bs. Federal judges make some of the worse decisions in recent history. The entitlement society is winning at every turn and our job is getting more dangerous every day.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago


    That is BS

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    My heart honestly sank reading that. I don't get it. I mean some things are so simple, yet people go out of their way to make it complicated. I won't speak my true mind here but to be honest some don't deserve what Police Officers do for them.

  • 2010-10-03_17


    almost 4 years ago


    Update from the Chief of Police

  • 1051193310_l_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This is what the liberal judiciary has become...

  • Ba_old_glory_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I guess this is one judge who doesn't give a damn that two heroes are dead!!!!!

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