Witness: English ran out with guns, money

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Delwan Smith testified Tuesday that he heard shots then saw Jermaine English flee an Orrville laundromat with two pistols and a cedar box full of money.

English is on trial for the murder of businessman Terry Morris, who owned the laundromat and was found shot dead inside it nearly two years ago. Another witness testified she found Morris shot to death that night after he collected money from the laundromat and another business he owned.

Smith, who was later arrested with English, has received a 12-year manslaughter charge in connection with the murder and is testifying against English.

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The trial will resume this morning at 9.

Judge Jack Meigs spent part of the trial Tuesday discussing

a jury charge.

A jury charge is when the judge explains to the jury what charges they need to consider when determining someone’s guilt or innocence.

Defense attorney Bill Whatley asked Meigs if separate charges could be given for murder and robbery.

Meigs said that in theory someone could rob a store and a different person then come in and commit the murder.

However, Meigs might charge the jury to consider three different charges today. These charges could include

murder, robbery and felony murder.

Felony murder, according to the district attorney’s office, occurs when a crime is committed and someone accidentally dies because of the that crime.

Opening statements in the trial began with District Attorney Ed Greene summarizing the events of Jan. 9, 2001, the night of the murder. He said that Morris had closed the M&M grocery store, another business of his, and gone to the laundromat. An Orrville resident, Dianna Johnson, was present when Morris arrived at the laundromat; however, she left soon afterwards only to return when she discovered she had left some clothes. Greene said that when Johnson returned she found Morris lying in a pool of blood.

Greene also said that English became a suspect when Smith, who had also been charged with capital murder, was confronted with a tape while in prison. The tape had Smith talking about the robbery.

Michael Jackson, the attorney defending Smith, said that he plead Smith a 12-year sentence for manslaughter for his testimony against English.

Whatley followed Greene’s opening statement with his own. He said that the only reason the jury was here was because a convicted felon, Smith, received a plea deal for 12 years and now English is on trial for murder with the possibility of the death penalty.

Whatley also said that nobody saw his client, English,


Morris and that the evidence would show that it was impossible for English to be in Orrville at the time of the murder.

On Tuesday the jury heard testimony from several witnesses. Linda Morris, Morris’ widow, took to the stand and answered several questions posed to her by Greene.

Her testimony included the usual routine Terry Morris and herself followed when closing their stores and the items her husband would have carried on him at the time: a cedar box with money and a pistol.

Linda Morris said that she hadn’t seen the box or the pistol since that day.

Whatley declined to ask Linda Morris any questions.

Smith also took to the stand on Tuesday and answered a number of questions about the night of the murder including the car that was used, how much money was stolen, and what occurred in the days following the murder.

Smith also said that he and English had gone to Sheryl Tucker’s house and borrowed her car.

Tucker is a resident of Orrville and she said later on Tuesday that it was the second time that English had borrowed her car, a blue Pontiac.

Smith said that while the car was parked behind the laundromat English entered the building with one pistol. Smith heard two shots, he said. Shortly thereafter Smith said English came running out of the building with two pistols and a cedar box.

After the robbery, Smith said, he and English went to the Budget Motel and rented a room. There the money from the box was divided.

A few days later, Smith continued, he and English traveled to Seattle where they were stopped by police and taken into custody.

Smith returned to Dallas County, he said, and was put in jail. Smith said that he had been on probation for robbery.

Whatley also asked Smith a number of questions about the murder. He said that Smith was convicted of robbery in 1997 for 12 years, but he only served 18 months and was put on probation for three years.

Whatley said there was a deal in the previous case also.

Whatley also questioned the details in Smith’s story, and he claimed that Smith originally didn’t tell the police the whole story.

Whatley said that Smith had first told police that he heard six shots instead of two back in June of 2001.

Other witnesses on Tuesday included:

The car, he said, pulled onto the road and turned its lights off.

Earlier, Smith had said that English entered the laundromat wearing a ski mask.

Lowe said that Smith gave him a ride the night of the murder. When Greene asked Lowe if English was in the car when he received a ride, Whatley objected and the jury filed out the room. Lowe then identified who was in the car with him by pointing to English, and did so again once the jury had returned.