By Sarah Toy
BU News Service
There was no motive, no scientific evidence, unreliable witnesses and incompetent investigators, the defense attorney for Maurice Morrison, a Chelsea man accused of the 2013 murders of Zouaoui Dani-Elkebir and Karima El-Hakim, told jurors during a closing statement yesterday.
Also, his defendant was too fat.
On the night Dani-Elkebir and El-Hakim were killed, surveillance cameras filmed Morrison at a sports bar close to the crime scene minutes after gunshots were reported in the area. This became a point of contention between the defense and the prosecution, with Assistant District Attorney Mark Lee declaring this was evidence against Morrison.
Defense lawyer Jonathan Shapiro argued that his client was physically unable to run that quickly.
“Your common sense tells you an overweight, out-of-shape person like Mr. Morrison could not have run that distance in that time,” Shapiro told the jury, referring to the 3 minutes and 45 seconds it would have taken Morrison to run the 1,520 feet from the crime scene to the sports bar — about the length of five football fields.
Shapiro and Lee spoke yesterday during closing arguments of Morrison’s murder trial in Suffolk Superior Court, where jurors began deliberating whether he is guilty of shooting and killing Zouaoui Dani-Elkebir and Karima El-Hakim on May 3, 2013, while they sat in Dani-Elkebir’s taxi cab on Chelsea’s Crescent Avenue.
During this past week of testimony, the prosecution contended that Morrison used a series of text messages to lure Dani-Elkebir and Karima El-Hakim to a location on Crescent Avenue, where he shot the two of them in the back of the head and then fled to a nearby bar. Lee said Morrison recruited Frank Gerena, a childhood friend and one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, to assist him in disposing the gun. He pointed to a possible motive: Lekia Lewis, another one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, said El-Kahim had told her that she was planning to blackmail Morrison for money and cocaine.
Shapiro assailed the prosecution’s witnesses, attacking their credibility and pointing out inconsistencies in their testimony. He said that Lewis was a cocaine user and “both Karima and Lekia were as high as kites when all this happened,” referring to their conversation. He also attacked the prosecution’s third key witness, Heather Gormley, who said she had seen El-Hakim on the night of May 13th in a taxi with a crack pipe in her hand. However, a post-mortem toxicology report showed that there was no cocaine in El-Hakim’s system.
“There is not a shred of scientific evidence that links Mr. Morrison to the crime,” Shapiro said. No blood or DNA from the victim had been found on any of the defendant’s clothes or in his apartment, he added.
“What counts is when the prosecution can back up the evidence,” he said. “Has he done that? No.”
“We all want to see the perpetrator or perpetrators brought to justice, but we also want to see that justice be done,” he told the jury. “You must exercise a dispassionate, fair-minded judgment.”