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.