Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 3:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 21, 2010

COLUMBIA — A Harrisburg man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder a year after human remains were found in a grave on his former property in Columbia.

Gregory Warren Morton, 41, was arrested in August 2008 in connection with the August 2004 shooting of Mitchell Wayne Kemp of Columbia. Kemp's remains were found on Morton's former property in south Columbia on August 9, 2008, according to previous Missourian reports.


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Morton withdrew his former plea of not guilty, entered March 16, and pleaded guilty on Monday afternoon in 13th Circuit Court to shooting Kemp. The charge of second-degree murder has a possible sentence of 10 to 30 years or life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 14.

Morton knew Kemp through Tausha Fields (referred to as Tausha Morton in court documents), 33, Kemp's estranged wife, whom Morton was living with at the time of the shooting. Fields is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with Kemp's death. She was arrested March 19 in Dickinson, Texas, and pleaded not guilty on April 27 in Boone County 13th Circuit Court. She is being held in the Boone County Jail.

After not hearing from Kemp since 2004, his family started searching for information online to find him and learned that he might have been killed in Boone County, according to previous Missourian reports.

In August 2008, Fields led authorities to the grave on Morton's property off Deer Park Road near Three Creeks Conservation Area, and DNA analysis concluded the remains were Kemp's, according to court documents. Morton was then arrested on August 29 in St. Louis.

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