Court upholds East Feliciana murder conviction

A three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal has upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a Port Hudson woman in the slaying of an armed robbery accomplice.

An East Feliciana Parish jury voted 11-1 in August to find Josie Y. Morgan, 41, guilty in the death of Andre Turner, 38, who was beaten, run over by a car and set on fire after he was dumped off La. 964 near Thompson Creek.

Appellate Judges J. Michael McDonald, James E. Kuhn and John T. Pettigrew issued the 20-page decision on June 7.

The panel rejected defense claims that the evidence did not support the verdict, a former sheriff’s deputy should not have been allowed to testify about telephone records and the defendant should have been able to play recorded statements that differed from trial testimony of witnesses against her.

Turner was killed after he, Morgan and two other people allegedly robbed a West Feliciana parish bar owner, according to trial testimony.

The decision says any rational juror, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, could have found the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of second-degree murder and Morgan’s identity as a perpetrator.

“We are constitutionally precluded from acting as a ‘thirteenth juror’ in assessing what weight to give evidence in criminal cases,” the decision says.

Benn Hamilton, who represented Morgan, said Thursday he does not plan to ask the state Supreme Court to review the case.

Morgan is incarcerated at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women at St. Gabriel.