Jan 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Fleeing motorist convicted of causing deadly Missouri crash

Posted Jan 24, 2020 1:00 AM
Morris photo Greene Co.
Morris photo Greene Co.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man who caused a deadly Springfield crash while trying to get away from law enforcement has been convicted of second-degree murder.

A Greene County judge returned the verdict Thursday in the case against Tommy Morris. He opted for a bench trial in which the judge heard evidence about the April 2018 death of 31-year-old Dana Sowards and decided the outcome instead of a jury.

Police say that when narcotics investigators tried to stop Morris after a suspected drug deal, he drove off, ran a red light and caused a four-vehicle pileup. Sowards, a mother of two, was behind the wheel of one of the vehicles. Her husband has filed a lawsuit.

Prosecutor Stephanie Wan focused on a phone call from Morris to his wife, saying he was fleeing from police to get rid of the drugs he had and because he had a warrant.

But Defense attorney Christopher Hatley said that although Morris admitted to driving recklessly, it only qualifies him for involuntary manslaughter, not murder.

Sentencing is set for March 27.