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Defense stresses Fields' cooperation with detectives

Monday, June 28, 2010 | 1:20 p.m. CDT; updated 1:48 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 28, 2010

COLUMBIA — The defense and the prosecution in the Tausha Fields murder trial debated the importance of Fields' help in finding her ex-husband's body when the trial resumed Monday morning.

Fields is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Mitchell Kemp. Gregory Morton, Fields’ husband at the time of the murder, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. During earlier testimony, Morton said he shot Kemp after Fields led Kemp to Morton's property.

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The defense — which has argued that Fields was coerced by Morton into helping with the murder — emphasized Fields’ cooperation with law enforcement in solving the case, while the prosecution downplayed her involvement.

Fields' attorney, Paul Hood, quizzed Boone County Sheriff's Department Detective Bob Brown on the events surrounding the discovery of Kemp's body.

"Is it fair (to say) that without Tausha Fields' assistance, you might have never found Mitchell Kemp's body?" Hood asked.

"I do not believe so, no," Brown replied, saying the department would have eventually found the body.

Before Fields showed detectives where Kemp's body was located, Brown testified that the Boone County Sheriff's Department searched the property, previously owned by Morton, in an attempt to find any ground that had been disturbed. The department also used dogs that are trained to find bodies, ground-penetrating radar and MU anthropologists to try and find the body.

None of these methods worked, and detectives didn't find Kemp's body until Fields pointed them in the right direction.

When asked to clarify his statements that Fields wasn't crucial to finding Kemp's body, Brown told prosecuting attorney Richard Hicks that the department had not yet exhausted all of the means at its disposal.

The prosecution also showed a videotaped interview from Dec. 19, 2008, when Fields was arrested in Texas. In the video, Boone County Sheriff's Department Detective David Wilson is interviewing Fields, who confessed to being present at Kemp's death after previously denying involvement with the death.

Wilson said he was giving Fields her last chance to tell him everything about the night Kemp was killed.

"This is your time tonight, this is probably going to be your last time tonight," Wilson told Fields.

"I didn't hurt nobody," Fields said, raising her voice.

In the video, Wilson told Fields that witnesses had come forward implicating Fields in Kemp's murder.

"That's not right," Fields told Wilson. "That's not right at all."

Fields admitted to being present when Morton shot Kemp but still insisted that she was innocent of any wrongdoing.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Fields said at the end of the interview. "I don't understand why I'm under arrest."

The trial is expected to resume around 1:15 p.m. Monday


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