Woman bought gun hours before shooting her ex, documents show

Saturday, August 9, 2008 | 11:04 p.m. CDT

 SPRINGFIELD - A woman who is accused of fatally shooting her ex-husband in the head last weekend purchased the gun and bullets only hours before the crime, court documents suggest.

Rachelle Morris, 25, is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of her ex-husband, Josh Morris, a former Republic alderman.

She pleaded not guilty on Thursday. Her preliminary hearing has been set for October.

According to search warrant documents, investigators found a receipt for a Taurus-brand 9mm handgun and ammunition that were purchased at 9:38 a.m. on Aug. 2 at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

About three hours later, Rachelle Morris placed a frantic phone call to police.

"Please help me, please help me, I don't know what to do," the woman told the dispatcher. "Josh, don't die."

Missouri lawmakers passed a law last year eliminating the requirement that someone wanting to buy a handgun first has to pass a sheriff's background check. Now they only are required to pass a federal firearms background check, which can take only a few minutes at the store to verify the buyer isn't a convicted felon.

Police say that the Morrises had arranged to meet Aug. 2 at a park, and that Rachelle Morris shot her former husband in the head while the two argued over visitation of their two children.

Police say the children - a 7-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy - were nearby when the shooting occurred.

Prosecutors could use the time the gun was purchased to determine whether Morris had planned to shoot her ex-husband. If they determine she deliberated over the shooting, they could upgrade the charge to first-degree murder.

"It doesn't mean anything right now," Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore said of the receipt. "It's an interesting fact, but they're still doing an investigation."

According to search warrant documents, investigators found a box of ammunition with 15 rounds missing and a plastic gun case in Rachelle Morris' vehicle. They also found a Taurus-brand 9mm handgun near the passenger side of the car.

Court records show that Josh Morris filed for divorce in August 2007, and was awarded sole custody of the two children in March, when Rachelle Morris was denied unsupervised visitation.



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