Case Of Murders At Lookout Valley Trailer Park Goes To The Jury With No Defense Proof; State Seeking Life Without The Possibility Of Parole For Morse

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Derek Morse
Derek Morse

The case in which three men were killed and a youth left for dead at a Lookout Valley trailer park went to the jury with no defense proof. The panel deliberated for three hours on Tuesday night and will resume on Wednesday morning.

Derek Morse on Tuesday afternoon opted not to take the witness stand in his own defense.

The state is asking that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the killings of Jon Morris, John "Jake" Lang and Caleb Boozer. He is also charged with the wounding of Matthew Callan, the lone survivor who was the star witness for the state.

Prosecutors said Monday that there were six photos on Morse's phone of guns tied to the murders. However, defense attorney Dan Ripper said the phone should have been checked out years ago - not on the eve of the trial. He said he got the photos last Monday - the day before jury selection began.

Prosecutor Lance Pope said because of the late notice, the state did not introduce the evidence against Morse. However, he said the state wanted to quiz Morse about it if he decided to testify and denied taking part in the April 9, 2014, killings.

Judge Barry Steelman initially said the state could ask Morse about it only if he denies ever having the guns. He gave attorney Ripper until Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to examine the gun photos as well as more than 500 other photos and videos on the Morse cell phone.

However, on Tuesday morning Judge Steelman said he had changed his mind and would not let in any mention about the gun pictures.

Prosecutor Pope said the sheriff's office confiscated the phone hours after the slaying on Kellys Ferry Place after Morse was found at a house on Kelly's Ferry Road. He said it is now necessary to obtain a search warrant to examine a cell phone and that action had not been taken until just before the trial.

Attorney Ripper said he knew the state had the phone, but said he had not prepared to deal with it since it appeared the state was not going to look at what was on it.

He said he had asked several times if the state had found text messages on the Morse phone. Prosecutor Pope said he was not aware if texts were available from the phone.

The prosecutor said one of the photos shows Skyler Allen, who is also charged in the case, shooting a gun on the murder of the killings. He said a gun seen on a picnic table appears to be similar to one of the weapons used in the murders.

He said another is of a Ruger .22 rifle that the state says was used by Morse in the slayings. He said it has the address of a man - Bob King - who allegedly sold the gun to Morse just before the massacre of Jon Morris, Caleb Boozer and John "Jake" Lang and the shooting of Matthew Callan, who was left for dead.  

The state concluded its proof on Monday morning after calling a jail deputy, who said Morse did spend time in a cell with Michael Shavers. Shavers earlier told the jury that Morse described in detail how the murders were carried out. 



Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Aug. 10-16

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Aug. 10-16: 08-10-18 Dareaux Alexander King, 23, of 5 Walter Street, Flat Rock, MI arrested on charges of possession of marijuana and drinking and disorderly. Luke Vandame Bryson, 22, of Ellis Road, Rossville arrested on an outstanding warrant. Dylan Cole Lockwood, 20, of 300 Spring Street Drive, Dickson, TN arrested on ... (click for more)

Bradley County Arrest Report

Click  here  for the latest Bradley County arrest report. (click for more)

Use Purse Building For Chattanooga Museum Of History And Industry

I was caught off-guard and pleasantly stoked by Eric Atkins' editorial on Chattanoogan.com last week suggesting that one of the soon-to-be surplused city buildings could be turned into a history museum.   I didn't think anyone other than myself that I didn't know cared, or at least would turn their thoughts into the topic of an editorial.  I believe that most of the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Many Math-Tragic Replies

The reaction to my Sunday story, “90% Can’t Do Math,” was fast and furious yesterday. A surprising number of the replies were from teachers, confirming the fact that only nine percent of the pupils in our Hamilton County Public Schools are getting the education that every taxpayer know will actually shape the lives these students will live. Because my stories are shared on the ... (click for more)

GPS Rallies To Clip CCS In Volleyball

There’s nothing quite like the jitters and general nervousness that goes along with playing in front of the home crowd for the first time. Add to that the pressure of making a good impression on a new coach and you can see what the GPS volleyball team was going through Monday evening. Despite all the outside factors and the fact GPS was facing undefeated Chattanooga Christians, ... (click for more)

Grace Rides Momentum To Win Over Lady Bucs

Volleyball games are often times hinged on one single point late in a match.   Monday  night, however, in a hard-fought battle between Division II Class A East foes Grace Baptist Academy and Boyd-Buchanan the turning point happened early in the second game in what eventually became a 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16) victory for the visiting Lady Eagles. ... (click for more)