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Fields' attorneys plan to question Boone County detective Monday

Saturday, June 26, 2010 | 6:19 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It's a story that stretches across several years and several states.

On Monday, attorneys will pick up where they left off in trying to sort out the complicated case of Tausha L. Fields. Proceedings in Fields' murder trial began June 21. Last week, jurors heard testimony from 19 state witnesses.

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Fields (who is also referred to as Tausha Morton), 34, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the Aug. 24, 2004 killing of Mitchell W. Kemp, one of her former husbands.

Attorneys from both sides agree that Fields brought Kemp to the south Boone County property she shared with then-husband Gregory W. Morton. Morton then shot Kemp and Fields helped bury the body. The sides dispute the nature of Fields' involvement.

Morton, 42, pleaded guilty in June 2009 to fatally shooting Kemp. Charges against Morton were downgraded from first-degree to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against Fields.

Morton, who testified extensively on Tuesday and Wednesday, said he shot Kemp because he believed Fields' stories that Kemp had abused her and her then-1-year-old daughter, Lexie. He said the murder was Fields' idea, adding that he now doubts the stories Fields told him and believes Kemp died an innocent man.

Fields' attorneys painted a different picture, one of a woman petrified, willing to do anything to avoid the wrath of a jealous and violent Morton.

Other major witnesses included: Kemp's relatives and acquaintances; two of Fields' ex-boyfriends whom she dated in Alabama and Florida after the killing; and various law enforcement officers who dealt with Fields, Kemp and Morton before and after the killing.

Prosecutors ended week one of the trial by showing taped interviews between Fields and Boone County Detective David Wilson. The interviews were recorded in 2008, prior to Fields' arrest. In these interviews, Fields told Wilson and other investigators she had no involvement in Kemp's murder, which she said was all Morton's doing.

In opening statements, Fields' attorneys acknowledged that many of the things Fields said in those interviews were lies.

During the 2008 interviews, Wilson told Fields he needed to find a body in order to arrest Morton and bring closure to the Kemp family. In August 2008, Fields led detectives to the unmarked grave where she and Morton had buried the victim. DNA analysis proved the body found there was Kemp's, and an autopsy ruled the death a homicide.

Fields was arrested in early 2009 in Dickinson, Texas. She was later extradited to Missouri, where she pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Proceedings will resume 8 a.m Monday.

Fields' attorneys told presiding judge Gary Oxenhandler they plan to question Wilson, the state's latest witness, at that time. The defense hasn't yet announced if — or when — Fields will take the stand.

Morton is expected to be sentenced to 19 years in a separate hearing next week.


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