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Morton takes the stand in Fields murder trial

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | 2:57 p.m. CDT; updated 8:46 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 24, 2010
Gregory Morton examines a photograph during his testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Tausha Fields on June 23 at the Boone County Courthouse. Morton, Fields' ex-husband, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2009 in the death of Fields' previous husband, Mitchell Kemp.

COLUMBIA — Gregory Warren Morton says he killed Mitchell Wayne Kemp, but that it wasn't his fault.

Morton continued his testimony Wednesday morning in the trial of Tausha L. Fields, who is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Kemp's death. Morton testified that in August 2004, Fields led her ex-husband, Kemp, to Morton's property so Morton could kill Kemp.

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Morton, who married Fields 12 days before Kemp's murder, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 22, 2009, in exchange for testimony against her.

The prosecution started their examination of Morton Tuesday afternoon, and Morton described shooting Kemp six times. Wednesday morning's testimony focused less on the murder and more on the events surrounding the shooting.

"I killed an innocent man," Morton told the jury. In the gallery, Shane Kemp, Mitchell Kemp's 20-year-old son, put his head in his hands, and other family members sniffled as Morton testified about Kemp's death.

Morton, getting emotional on the stand, said he became suicidal after killing Kemp. He said Kemp did not deserve to die and that he prays for the Kemp family every night.

After the murder, Morton said the couple moved with Field's then 2-year-old daughter, Lexie, to Alabama. Morton went to Louisiana in August 2005 to help with the cleanup from Hurricane Katrina and make extra money — and when he came back, he said, Fields had a new boyfriend.

"I drove up in the driveway to find another man in my house," Morton said.

Morton and Fields eventually divorced. Later, Morton said he decided to talk to Keith Jones, the new boyfriend, whom Fields had apparently told about Kemp's murder.

"I called him and said, 'Look, I've been telling you all along, this woman is going to get you killed," Morton said.

Police arrested Morton in July 2008 because of an outstanding warrant for three firearms he stole in 2004. Morton used one of the stolen firearms to shoot Kemp.

On Aug. 28, 2008, Morton was arrested for murder. Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Hicks asked Morton why he did not flee after the arrest in July.

"It was obvious (Fields) was going to put this on me," Morton said, fighting tears. "And I wanted to spend the rest of my time out with my family."

Hicks's examination characterized Morton as a family man who committed murder to protect his wife, but defense attorney Paul Hood took a different stance.

"You wanted to control her, you wanted to dominate her, didn't you?" Hood asked.

"No, sir," Morton said.

Hood attacked Morton's claim that Fields manipulated him. Using his fingers, Hood counted out the things that Fields convinced Morton to do: kill Kemp; not call the police; sell the Deer Park Road property he owned, where Kemp was killed; stop talking to his family; and move to Alabama without telling anyone.

"She was a good salesman," Morton said.

In 2004, Morton said, he believed Kemp raped Fields multiple times and molested daughter Lexie. But now, Morton said, he did not think Fields was ever raped by Kemp.

Morton denied Hood's suggestion that Hicks prepared Morton for his testimony. Morton also denied asking a prison-mate how to pass a lie detector test.

Hood examined Morton for two and a half hours. Hood will continue the examination Wednesday afternoon after a lunch break.

Morton is scheduled to be sentenced June 28 after Fields' trial, and is expected to receive 19 years in prison as part of his plea agreement to testify. He must serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Fields' trial is expected to last through next week.


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