Murder trial continues with witness testimony
Last week prosecutors began laying out the facts of the case against Michael David Morrow, accused of murdering his wife Amanda Morrow on Oct. 16, 2010.
The State is now calling several key witnesses to the stand, who are retelling the events that played out before Amanda Morrow was found lifeless on her neighbor’s front porch.
On the evening of Oct.15, Amanda Morrow was in good spirits when she went to watch her son play in the Pisgah/Tuscola football game in Canton with her best friend DeDy Wayman at her side.
Wayman took the stand last week, testifying that while at the game, Amanda Morrow encountered Michael Morrow, her estranged husband, several times.
His demeanor was irritated and upset and Wayman testified she could smell alcohol on his breath. At one point, he grabbed Amanda Morrow by the arm at the game and he came up to her car window while leaving the game and aggressively asked who she was talking to on the phone. That’s when Amanda called her friend.
“At that point she did tell me that she was scared for her life,” Wayman said.
Amanda’s mother, Dorothy “Dottie” Smith also testified, saying that Amanda called her when she made it home after the game and told her that Michael was blocking her driveway. Earlier that evening, Amanda had asked her parents to give her money to pay for separation papers.
Smith could hear her daughter arguing with Michael Morrow.
“He said he didn’t marry the whole damn family and he was ready to sign the separation papers,” Smith said. “The last words we heard her say was 'Mike, what are you doing,' and the phone cut out immediately. I tried calling back — no answer.”
That’s when Smith called 9-1-1.
Deputies from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office went directly to Amanda Morrow’s home at 58 Nutmeg Court, only to find her silver Ford Focus straddling Nutmeg Court and Pot Leg Road. The door was open, the hood was warm and her cell phone and purse were in the passenger seat.
Lt. Mike Price said a “be on the lookout” for Michael Morrow’s black Ford Fusion was issued.
“I had a gut feeling that something was not right — that something had happened to these two people… I told Det. Schick that I really thought that Amanda had been taken,” Price said.
"An awful scream"
Robert Brown, Amanda Morrow’s neighbor, also took the stand last week as another key witness for the State. He testified that the noise of his dogs barking woke him up around 11:30 p.m. on Oct.15. When he went outside to check on them he said he heard screams.
“I heard this awful scream coming from across the road. I then heard a loud shot like a shotgun go off,” he said, adding that at the time, he wasn’t sure if the scream came from a woman or an animal. After the gunshot there was silence, he said.
Shortly thereafter, Brown said he saw a shiny, dark colored car drive away from Amanda Morrow’s driveway. When he later saw three police cars across the street, he assumed someone else had already called 9-1-1 and went back to bed.
Law enforcement continued their search for Amanda and Michael Morrow throughout the night.
Det. Jim Schick with the sheriff's office was one of the main detectives investigating the case and the first to find Morrow at his home on Morrow Drive around 7 a.m. that morning.
He was lying on his bed with a cocked 32. caliber revolver with one round missing at his left side.
Officer Michael Blaylock with the Maggie Valley Police Department testified that the only words Michael Morrow said before his arrest was, "I done what I done," while pointing toward a gun cabinet.
Although he did not smell of alcohol, Det. Schick believed him to be impaired on an overdose of Tylenol, which was found near the bed.
Schick searched the black Ford Fusion for Amanda unsuccessfully. What he did find was a notebook in the front passenger seat of Morrow’s car turned to a page where it was written, “Please tell the kids I love them… I messed up and I can’t get any help.”
“At that point I knew there was a big concern,” Schick said.
Following Michael Morrow’s arrest, Schick was heading back to the office to retrieve a gunshot residue kit when he received the call that a woman had been found dead.
When going out his front door at 373 Pot Leg Road around 8:45 a.m. to take his dog out, Brown found a woman curled in the fetal position, resting against the door with a pool of blood under her head.
During an interview with Michael Morrow on Oct.17, Schick said Morrow told detectives that he had punched Amanda Morrow in the face while she was still in the car in her driveway that night. He said she got out of her car and he went back to his car, got a gun, choked her up against the house and then shot her in the right temple.
Morrow was arrested immediately following the interview under a charge of murder.
On Tuesday, Defense Attorney J. Michael Edney probed Schick during cross-examination questioning him about the process by which evidence was taken from Morrow’s home. He suggested that certain evidence, such as the revolver and bullets, were not documented correctly, although Schick said correct protocol was used.
Morrow’s defense strategy remains unclear as Edney indicated he is reserving opening statements until later in the trial. The trial is expected to continue well into next week.