State rests case in Lookout Valley murder trial

State rests case in Lookout Valley murder trial

September 25th, 2017 by Zack Peterson in Breaking News

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Prosecutors rested their case this afternoon against Derek Morse, the 23-year-old man on trial for murder in the 2014 Lookout Valley triple homicide. 

After a weekend recess, prosecutors played a 12-minute phone call that Morse made after he was arrested April 10, 2014, for the slayings of Caleb Boozer, John Lang and Jon Morris. 

Morse said he wasn't guilty and asked a person on the other end to write down a timeline of events: He went to Walmart with a friend, Michael Shavers, connected with his friend, Jacob Allison, and then played video games with Allison and a third man, Skyler Allen. 

Prosecutors have a different version of events. 

Motivated by a violent incident five days earlier at the Food Lion, Morse got Allison, then a minor, to drive him and Allen to a trailer on Kellys Ferry Road. There, he and Allen opened fire, killing everyone except 16-year-old Matthew Callan.

To prove their case, prosecutors have introduced alleged murder weapons, called Callan, ballistics experts and asked Hamilton County deputies to outline their entire investigation. 

But after the state rested around 1:30 p.m., defense attorney Dan Ripper asked for the case to be dismissed. 

Ripper said the state hadn't proven identity and that no reasonable juror could find Morse guilty. The 23-year-old faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. 

Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman disagreed, outlining several pieces of the state's proof. He also pointed to Callan, who testified that Morse pulled up in a car and opened fire on his group of friends. 

Identity, premeditation and shots fired "all came in through Matthew Callan," Steelman said. "And then the court has heard some evidence that circumstantially links him to the killings."  

Since the state has rested, Ripper can now call witnesses for Morse. Court is in recess while they decide what to do. 

This is a developing story. Please check back later for more information. 


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