An Altus man appeared in court for a first degree manslaughter charge.
The initial court appearance for Rowdy Morrow was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24. Morrow appeared via web-cam from the Tillman County Jail.
The Honorable Judge Brad Benson presided over the case. He read Morrow his rights regarding lawyers and trials before asking the defendant if he had any questions about his rights. Morrow said no that he did not have any questions.
Benson asked what the state’s recommendation on bond was, and Assistant District Attorney Deanna Hansell said that the state recommended a bond of $250,000. She also asked that the defendant relinquish his driver’s license before he was released on bond.
Morrow was represented by defense attorney Ken Sue Doerfel of Lawton. She responded to the state’s recommendation on bond by countering.
“Your Honor, the court has before it a very young man who just turned 18 a couple of months ago,” Doerfel said. “This obviously is a very serious charge…I’m requesting that he be put under full house arrest. He wouldn’t be able to leave his residence in Altus for any reason…As far as I know there is no criminal history, and I would respectfully request a bond to be set with whatever conditions the court would do between 5 and 10 thousand.”
Hansell said that the state objected to the bond reduction given past reckless driving instances of the defendant.
“Given the seriousness of the crime — the charge is felony manslaughter first degree — we’ve got the loss of life of a young lady who was a passenger,” Hansell said. “As reflected in the probable cause affidavit, based on the investigation by the highway patrol, it is alleged that Mr. Morrow did run the stop sign with the intention of beating the freight-liner truck, but he failed to do so because he had it in third gear rather than first gear.
“I would also point out to the court…that there’s been multiple incidents in the past where Mr. Morrow has been stopped by the Frederick police department, given tickets that went through city court, and in addition there’s been multiple citizens complaints that were made to the Fredrick police department about Mr. Morrow’s driving around town in a reckless manner. Based on that history and based on the crime before us, we ask at this point that bond remain at $250,000.”
Doerfel said that she doesn’t think the state can show probable cause for this case.
“At best I think it’s a misdemeanor negligent homicide,” Doerfel said. “That will be our argument as we go forward that this wasn’t a DUI accident, no drugs were involved…and I think for that reason that a bond should be reasonable under the circumstances.”
Hansell said that that was an argument to be made at a probable cause hearing.
Benson said that given the charge, he was comfortable with setting the bond at $150,000 with the requirement that he will be monitored by a GPS unit under complete house arrest and would relinquish his driver’s licence, citing the need to protect the public.
At press time, Morrow remained in the Tillman County Jail.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.