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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.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Another bad call by a judge. Pile the charges on in state court.

  • Plmb2s3sk_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    She needs to be put away, this is sad.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max160_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    She implicated herself.. Too bad that " judge" cannnot also be charged with being an accessory.

  • Badge__hat_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Charge her in state court with every applicable offense. Be relentless with her prosecution. Do NOT let her walk away scott free. Oh, and by the way, this federal judge should be impeached and thrown out with the dish water for undermining the public law and general incompetence.

  • P1030380_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I'll bet she is a Liberal Democrat

  • Team_opca_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Outrageous and what a total POS. She should be tried in Circuit court if the Fed judge won't do anything about it. Throw the book at her and stick a needle in her arm.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Cannot win when the very one's holding the position to do the right, bends over and does the wrong. How in the hell did the judge justify this one? She knew of the weapon, she knew her squeeze was a felon, she knew he was going to to the deed, she is just as guilty in the commission of the murder of these two young hero's as the piece of ----that pulled the trigger. No wonder the system is in the shape it is in, no wonder the costs of officers lives are increasing everyday. The bad guys know they have allies on their side, the and allies are the dam systems employees. When will the system be purged and cleaned of this kind of crap? When will officers stop loosing their lives at the hands of felons out running around like anyone else? Dam shame, and a dam pitiful and unjustified decision on the part of the judge.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Absolute BS!!! She is a POS as much as the shooter is! She will get hers I am sure in the end but this judge def needs to go back to law school! What a shame...........

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Nothing but a Travesty of Justice. What about "Planning" and "Premeditation"?
    Once again, by a Judge out of touch with reality.
    I hope the U.S. Attorney does the right thing here.

  • Airborne_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This judge's ruling is outrageous and deserves to be appealed. This woman is just as guilty as the POS who pulled the trigger.

  • 024_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    how sad that these scumbags get all the benefits. Let me guess she probably has a public defender too. Let's just continue punishing all the law abiding citizens.

  • 8_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    once again... people don't give a rats a$$ about L.E.O.'s... it's only going to get worse. Let's stay safe and go home after work. That's about all we can do for now.

  • Pr_photos_018_cropped_suit_shot_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    UNBELIEVABLE.....I hope this judge can sleep at night, but I honestly don't know how.

  • 108_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    how about the people that make a living defending these mooks, cant stand em. I was right down the road from where the accident happened. It was very sad ,TPD was all over it.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 4 years ago



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