RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The jury deliberations were done Friday morning and Jeremy Morrow was found Not Guilty of second-degree rape and giving a minor alcohol.
In closing arguments Thursday, Prosecutor Ted Bell reviewed the text messages between Morrow and teen that had been brought into evidence by the defense. Bell argued that any suggestive texts had been initiated by Morrow and recommended that the jury go with their “gut.”
His argument to the jury regarding “reasonable doubt” was that, “If you know he did it, but …” stop at the but. Bell downplayed the inconsistencies with the chain of evidence. The girl’s uncle, former Lt. Kelly Aldridge, picked up the rape kit from the hospital. Bell remarked, “That probably wasn’t a good idea.” Bell went on to say, “The rape kit was sealed.” However, the jury raised questions of the security of the evidence and whether it had been tampered with.
Bell also showed the sexy black underpants that had been tested by the Crime Lab. The Crime Lab results of the testing of the substance on the victim’s back could not be determined to be semen. Only a swab turned in by the defendant herself matched the DNA of the defendant.
In his closing arguments Daniel Talbert, defense attorney, immediately said to the jury, “The D.A. did not give you the full definition of reasonable doubt. He said to “stop at the but. Don’t lower the State’s burden of proof.” He noted how often the victim said “I don’t recall” or “I don’t remember.”
Talbert then stated how the victim’s testimony changed when confronted with her text messages. Talbert then noted that “Bell took the [quoted] texts out of content.” Talbert said that Bell had never referred to the defendant as “Stepdad.” Then Talbert asked them to question the two-hour delay in reporting the incident and with the relative handling of the evidence.
Talbert then began punching holes in the Sheriff Department’s investigation. He put up a PowerPoint slide listing:
- no pictures were taken of the crime scene
- phone and text records were not subpoenaed
- there was no 911 call – no record of any calls on the CAD reports
- no tests of blood alcohol levels were made
- no cup or jar that the moonshine had allegedly been in was submitted.
- no interviews of any of the members of the family
- no followup interviews of anyone
The State Crime Lab issues were also listed:
- No Serologist
- Could not identify the substance on the victim’s back as semen
- N0 toxicology report on Blood Alcohol Level
The jury began deliberations Friday and returned NOT GUILTY on both charges.