Counterfeit money for crack cocaine: that's what Columbus Police say set off a high-speed chase, which ended in Curtis Taron Turner's July 31st homicide and suspect David Lee Morris' eventual arrest.
Morris, 24, had his preliminary hearing during a Thursday morning Recorder's Court session. He is charged with Turner's homicide and possession of a firearm during a crime.
Police found 32-year-old Turner dead with a gunshot wound to the back of the head at about 5 a.m., after the vehicle he was driving collided with the back of a residence on North Oakley Drive. A surviving female victim was transported to The Medical Center shortly after EMS and Fire workers responded to the homicide, first reported as a traffic fatality.
Det. Katina Williams told the court the survivor said she and Turner traveled to Victory Trailer Park that Wednesday night to visit a man called "Black." They purchased a small amount of crack cocaine, which Turner allegedly paid "Black" — later known as Morris — for in counterfeit money.
Later, the surviving victim said she saw a high-set truck with bright headlights speeding up to them while they drove down Buena Vista Road. The victim couldn't see who was driving the vehicle, but she told Turner she thought the truck was following them. So, he turned down Tennessee Drive in an attempt to lose the vehicle.
But the truck followed, with both vehicles increasing their speed as they went. As Turner veered onto Monticello Drive, the occupants of the truck allegedly began shooting at Turner's vehicle, busting the rear window in the process.
Moments later, Turner crashed into the home on North Oakley Drive. In addition to the gunshot wound Turner suffered, police found multiple shell casings in the area. However, Williams said she couldn't remember what caliber the casings were.
Police were later able to find video surveillance of the chase from the surrounding area, which showed a white Dodge Ram following close to Turner's car. An undisclosed number of witnesses later confirmed the car belonged to Morris, which led police to seize and search the vehicle. No weapon was discovered during that search.
Morris turned himself into the police August 23 after police named Morris as a suspect August 22. According to his representative, Attorney Stacey Jackson, he immediately invoked his right to silence.
However, Williams said that within days of Morris' arrest she spoke to him in an unmarked detective vehicle about Turner's homicide. Morris allegedly told Williams that a man named J.C. Robinson actually fired the gun that night.
"He said he wasn't only hiding from police, but also from J.C. Robinson," Williams said.
Jackson questioned Williams heavily about the conversation, noting carefully that no video or audio recording of the exchange exists.
Jackson also noted that police never executed a search warrant at Morris' home. He said police are seeking Robinson for questioning, but he is not being sought for arrest.
"Most importantly, there was an alleged shooting, and there was no murder weapon," Jackson said.
The attorney said after the hearing that he believes his client's Fifth Amendment rights were violated, since Morris had already stated he wished to remain silent when Williams talked to Morris in the detective's car. He claims he was not notified that police were intending to question Morris.
"From my understanding in talking to my client, no statement was made," Jackson said.
Judge Michael Cielinski set no bond for Morris' murder charge. His bond for the possession of a firearm charge was set at $15,000.
Turner was released from state prison less than a month before his death. According to a 2011 Ledger-Enquirer report, Turner was indicted with aggravated assault on a police officer and theft by shoplifting in March of 2011.
Turner allegedly stole two packs of Corona beer from Money Back Food Store on Buena Vista Road in July 2010. During the investigation, an officer was investigating the minivan Turner was driving. The officer had his left foot on a back bumper when Turner allegedly sped off.