Testimony began Monday in the Lexington trial of Jefferey Charles Morris, who is charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of Anthony "Tone" Carter.
A prosecution witness testified that she saw Morris in Lexington shortly before the shooting. But defense attorney Robin Slater told jurors in her opening statement that "what the evidence will show is that my client did not commit this murder. He was in Louisville" to see his children.
Furthermore, Slater said in her opening statement that Morris, 31, went to the county attorney's office after the June 11, 2014, shooting to check the status of his child support.
"Someone who has committed a murder, that's not something they would do, is go to a prosecutor," Slater said. "The evidence will show it wasn't Mr. Morris" who killed Carter.
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Federal marshals arrested Morris in November in Glendale, Ariz., near Phoenix, where he had been staying with a woman who had once lived in Lexington.
Carter, 47, was found shot to death in the 400 block of Chestnut Street shortly after 5:30 a.m. He had been shot once in the back and was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Carter had moved to Lexington from Michigan about six months earlier to pursue a better life.
Lindajane Dreux testified that, on the day of the shooting, she was awakened by the sound of a gunshot near her home on Chestnut Street. She looked out her front door, saw a man lying on the ground and called 911.
She said she saw no blood but said the man "was gasping for air."
Mary Miller, another prosecution witness, testified that she saw Morris — whom she and others called "Black Jeff" — at a house on Nelson Avenue where Charles Wells and Sean "New York" Randolph lived. She said Morris took a phone call, then left the house on a bicycle.
Her testimony was that Morris said he was "going to get" Carter, and that she left the house to warn Carter.
But before she could get to Chestnut Street, Miller said she heard a gunshot and saw Carter riding a bike on Chestnut.
Miller acknowledged on the stand that she has smoked crack cocaine, but said during cross-examination that she was not under the influence at the time of the shooting.
"It's something you can't forget," Miller said. "I wish I could."
Charles Wells, another prosecution witness, denied that he told police Morris had taken a bike from the Nelson Avenue house. "I didn't say he took it the day the guy got shot," Wells said.
Rex Jenkins Sr., who was driving in the neighborhood of Fourth and Chestnut, testified that he remembered telling police he saw a man jump off a bike and run.
"I remember telling them something to that effect," Jenkins said.
But during cross-examination, Slater asked, "You really don't remember anything?"
"Not a lot," Jenkins said.
The trial is scheduled to go through Thursday, but Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. told jurors it could end earlier. The death penalty is not an option in this case.
The prosecutors are assistant commonwealth's attorneys Kimberly Baird and Amanda Naish.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.