Day 2: The Trial of Tommy Morris

Local News

SPRINGFIELD — The more witnesses testified, but Morris reaction to learning of Dana Sowards’ death was also played for the court.

Day two of Tommy Morris trial in the death of Dana Sowards, 31, was filled with more testimony from those who responded to the scene of the crash where Sowards lost her life.

Morris is charged with the second-degree murder of Sowards who was killed April 17th, 2018.

Morris is accused of hitting and killing Sowards that day while evading police.

The court heard from officers involved in the pursuit – some who responded to the crash – as well as the medical examiner who pronounced Sowards dead at the scene.

Sowards suffered multiple serious injuries, and her ultimate cause of death was blood loss due to internal bleeding.

The most significant testimony was that of Springfield Police Detective Neal McAmis, who took the stand for most of the day.

He was involved in the pursuit of Morris on the day Sowards was killed. McAmis says Morris was part of a bigger drug investigation, that he has since been determined not to be connected to. Officers had tried to arrest Morris earlier in the day at the Best Budget Inn Motel in Springfield, but Morris fled and police did not pursue him.

The defense argued that the chase a few hours later should have never happened in the first place.

McAmis explained that he was given the approval to pursue Morris after officers tried to apprehend him in the Price Cutter parking lot when Morris fled again.

McAmis says the chase was approved based on a reasonable belief that Morris had hit a man in the parking lot with his car upon fleeing.

“I notified Sgt. DeWitt, who was the supervisor that day. He wasn’t there but I notified him of the incident that he had apparently struck the gentleman, and he authorized a pursuit at that time,” McAmis says.

McAmis explained that eventually, the unmarked police cars involved in the pursuit were not able to keep up with Morris.

Those officers had to obey traffic laws because they had no sirens or lights on those vehicles.

Eventually, Morris hit and killed Sowards, but Morris was not made aware of Sowards’s death until the next day when McAmis interviewed him on April 18, 2018.

That interview was played before the court today.

“You are aware that the female died, you aware of that right?” McAmis asked Morris.

“No,” Morris said.

“Yeah, the lady that you hit, she died right there on the scene… She had just turned 31, she’s got a little boy,” McAmis said.

Morris said he didn’t even want to live anymore.

“She’s married to her junior high sweetheart, she’s never done a thing wrong in her life,” said McAmis.

Morris began to sob and said that he was sorry and didn’t know what to say.

Morris told investigators that day that he ran from police because he didn’t want to go to jail, and said he wanted to avoid arrest because of an outstanding warrant.

The trial will resume on Thursday morning. Since this is a bench trial, Judge Michael Cordonnier will be the one to make a verdict, which is expected to come tomorrow after both sides rest their case.

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