The two men accused of killing Kelei Morris more than three years ago were in court on Wednesday, March 7th after some unexpected delays. Steven Mason and Adam Miller were arrested last March. They've been in Mobile Metro Jail ever since, both charged with murder.
The hours-long hearing was the next stepping stone for the Kelei Morris murder case to go to trial, more than three years after her death. Basically, the prosecution and defense talked about what can and cannot be discussed during trial. And that took a while, because there is a lot of evidence and two suspects.
Both sides questioned the lead homicide detective, but most of the time was focused on the evidence against Adam Miller, Mason's alleged accomplice. The defense wants to suppress some of the evidence. The District Attorney's Office played part of Miller's interviews with Mobile Police detectives, one from 2015, and another from 2017, after Miller was arrested. He was picked up in Colorado.
Mason and Miller's attorneys spent hours going back and forth with Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright about those motions. Another one of the several motions brought up in court; the defense wants Mason and Miller to be tried separately.
"We think it would only be fair for both defendants if these cases were separated, and I think the judge may be headed that way, we're not sure yet," said defense attorney, Dennis Knizley. "Things like this just take a long time."
But after about three hours, the judge didn't rule on most of the motions. He will need to review the evidence and listen to the interviews himself.
It's still unclear which suspect investigators believe actually killed Kelei. That's something the judge did decide on, ruling that the distinction doesn't need to be revealed.
"The judge ruled in favor of the state on that, in that we don't have to provide a more definite statement and do not have to give our trial theory at this point in time to the defense," said Wright. "There are lengthy amount of motions to be handled in a case like this and those have to be ironed out this is just part of the process."
This already complicated case gets even more complicated with Steven Mason's past. You can read more about that in the article below.
The continuation of the pre-trial hearing is set for March 15th. The murder trial won't start for another several months.
Story posted on 03/06/18:
It's been more than a thousand days since 24-year-old Kelei Morris was killed. It was a murder that stunned the Port City back in 2015, and a case that's had a lot of twists and turns, but no justice for Kelei.
Her alleged killers, Steven Mason and Adam Miller, have yet to go on trial after a year of delays. That should all end on Wednesday, when they are both scheduled to appear in court.
Its been a complicated case from the beginning. A pre-trial hearing was supposed to happen back in January, but Steven Mason's alleged partner in crime, Adam Miller, was in the hospital. We're told that's all sorted out now, and the case can move forward.
Kelei's best friend has been wanting that for a while now. We spoke with her on the phone. Nacquel Bennett has now gone the past three years without her best friend. They grew up in Biloxi, and spent a lot of time together. But Bennett will always remember the last time she saw Kelei. In February of 2015, Bennett sat by Kelei's side in the hospital room while Kelei was in critical condition after being shot in the head at her apartment complex.
"I'm glad I got that time, other than, I didn't get to see her at all...She was an inspiring, beautiful person, and you were definitely blessed to have her in your life."
Two years went by until an arrest. Mobile Police picked up Kelei's boyfriend at the time, Steven Mason, and charged him with murder last March. A week later, another arrest: Mason's alleged partner in crime, Adam Miller, who is also charged with murder. That day, Bennett says, was the last time she saw hope for getting justice for Kelei. Since then, the case has dragged on.
"It's hard waiting...[but] I'd rather it take a while and be done right, than be quick and not get justice at all."
Part of the reason there have been so many delays is back in August, Mason was accused of trying to arrange for witnesses in the case to be killed. He allegedly did that while he was in jail. He's now also charged with solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder.
On top of that, Mason was charged with killing a teenage girl about fifteen years ago, but those court documents have been sealed. The victim's family tells us Mason got youthful offender status and served three years.
FOX10 News will be there for Mason and Miller's next court appearance, and will let you know what happens.
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