Jury Hears About Incident Behind Food Lion That Authorities Say Led To Triple Murders In Lookout Valley; Neighbor Saw Trio With Guns

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Brandon Jackson
Brandon Jackson

A Criminal Court jury on Thursday was told about an incident behind the Food Lion on Brown's Ferry Road that authorities say was the motive for an April 9, 2014, massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park.

Brandon Jackson said the incident five days earlier involved Derek Morse, who is standing trial on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Jackson at the time was living at the Rolling Hills Trailer Park where his brother-in-law, Jon Morris, was killed along with John "Jake" Lang and Caleb Boozer. A fourth person, Matthew Callan, was left for dead, but he survived.

Jackson, who was brought to court from a Georgia prison, told the jury there had been a prior marijuana deal with Morse in which he (Morse) stole $20. He said Jon Morris was upset about this and arranged to meet Morse behind the grocery and have him beat up by him (Jackson) and Dan Antoine.

He said Morris arrived early, and he and Antoine got out and hid behind a dumpster. He was armed with a tire iron and Antoine had a knife.

Jackson said after Morse arrived in a black Hyundai that he had the other man crept toward the vehicle. However, he said Morse heard some gravels moving and he stepped on his brake lights, lighting up where they were walking.

Jackson said after he bashed the Morse car near the top with a tire iron that Morse opened the door of his vehicle and began shooting numerous shots at them with a handgun. Jackson said he jumped into the Nissan Altima driven by Morris, while Antoine left on foot.

Both vehicles left the back of the store, going around opposite sides. They got back together near Brown's Ferry Road and Morse fired more shots, it was stated.

Jackson said Morse left going toward the nearby I-24. He said Morris drove onto Brown's Ferry Road in the other direction, then went back to the grocery parking lot. He said Morris was frightened and wanted him to drive.

Jackson said he began driving on Brown's Ferry Road going away from the freeway. He said Morse began pursuing them at a high rate of speed. He said at times Morse pulled his car up beside them.

Jackson said he wheeled into a subdivision on O'Grady Drive and continued at 75 to 80 mph, though Morse was no longer directly behind them. He said the vehicle went crashing into a ditch.

Jackson said he was wanted by Georgia authorities, so he got out of the wrecked car and went into nearby woods. He said he watched as Morris screamed for help, then saw emergency personnel who came and got Morris out of the vehicle.

Jackson said he stayed in the woods most of the night, then later went up to a trailer and got a ride to Kelly's Ferry Place.

The state also called Joshua Maples, who said he and two companions were on the front of the Food Lion parking lot that night. He said they heard what sounded like 10 firecrackers going off. Then cars came swerving around either side of the strip center.

He said he knew both Morse and Morris and could tell they were the drivers.

The witness said the two cars met up again near the road and about four more shots were fired. He told of Morse leaving, then Morris driving out and back in and switching drivers. He also saw Morse start to chase the Morris vehicle down Brown's Ferry Road.

The witness said after he heard about the triple murders five days later he decided to tell police about what he had seen.

Brandon Jackson also told what he said he could remember about the trailer park shootings. He said he came out of the living room of the Morris trailer and heard a car. He said he saw it was Derek Morse's black Hyundai, noting that he could see the mark from where he had used the tire iron.

He said he saw Jacob Allison behind the wheel wearing a ball cap and sunglasses. He said there were two others in the car. He said the person in the back had a bandana over his face and a hoodie on. He said it looked like he was loading a rifle.

Jackson in earlier statements said he saw Morse at the scene, but on the stand he said he could not identify Morse as being the man loading the rifle.

He said he later began hearing gunfire, but he said he did not witness anything from the shooting.

Jackson is serving time on convictions for terroristic threats, cruelty to children and aggravated battery.

The jury was shown video of Morse in the Lookout Valley Walmart with an individual with long hair the afternoon of the April 9 shooting.

There was also video from the Mapco on Highway 136 in Trenton, Ga., after the shooting at 7:56 p.m. and the Subway on Brown's Ferry Road at 8:15 p.m.

A Subway employee in charge of the video system said she knew both Morse and Skyler Allen, who is also charged. She said she did not know the third individual in the Subway that night. Jacob Allison is the third defendant. The employee said she went to school with both Morse and Allen.

It was testified at an earlier hearing that Morse, Allen and Allison went briefly to Trenton after the shooting.

The jury also heard from Dennis McNabb, who said he was sitting in the carport of his Lookout Valley home at 6:15 p.m. on April 9 when Morse and a young boy drove up to where Skyler Allen was living next door with his (McNabb's) daughter.

He said they went inside, then Morse and Allen came out with guns. He said they left at 6:25 p.m.

Sgt. Wendell Adams told of getting a BOLO about the black Hyundai seen at the murder site. He said he spotted it at the rear of America's Best Value Inn.

He said there were a couple of spent .22 shell casings at the bottom of the front windshield of the car that was registered to Morse.

Sgt. Henry Ritter, the lead detective, said Morse's name "came up pretty early in the investigation."

Investigators located him at 4:30 a.m. on April 10, 2014, at the home of Brittany McCord Quarles on Elder Mountain Road. He said Morse was shirtless and wearing gym shorts. His white shirt with writing and khaki shorts, along with his wallet, were by the bed of Ms. Quarles.

A live .22 round was found in the pocket of the shorts.

He said investigators found the Nissan Altima that had wrecked in the chase with the Morse vehicle. It was at Lucky's Towing.

The detective said Morse made his first call from the jail after being arrested to Melissa "Lulu" Taylor, father of his child. He said based on the call that charges were brought against Ms. Taylor, who was a juvenile at the time.

He said Ms. Taylor is the cousin of Allison and his half-brother, Michael Shavers.

The detective said the trio, after the shooting, drove straight to Allison's grandparents in Trenton. He said the grandmother said they arrived about 7:15, and the shooting was around 7 p.m. He said detectives drove the same route with about the same traffic and also made it in 15 minutes.

Sgt. Ritter said it was Shavers who gave information about where guns could be found used in the killings. He told of locating them in a ditch off I-24.

 

 

 

 

Detective Roger Brown displays rifle believed used in trailer park shootings
Detective Roger Brown displays rifle believed used in trailer park shootings


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