Texas not in hurry for Morris to return Probation hearing stays Nov. 25 despite scrape

November 19, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Ravens running back Bam Morris, due to appear in a Rockwall County, Texas, court on Tuesday to face charges that he violated his probation for drug possession, will not be ordered to report earlier than expected, following his latest legal scrape.

Rockwall District Attorney Ray Sumrow said, in light of Morris being charged Monday with the second-degree assault of a Dallas woman at a teammate's birthday party Sunday night in Baltimore County, the Texas court would not compel him to appear in Rockwall before Nov. 25.

"We're looking at the [latest] allegations, and if we can substantiate those, we will include them in the motion to revoke his probation," Sumrow said. "We're not making a motion to bring him back before his trial, but that could also be up to the judge."

"I have talked with the Texas authorities, and they will not be transporting him back to Texas before his November court date," said Keith Wheeler, Morris' attorney. "I expect the authorities here to get the details of what happened [this week] and see if there is sufficient evidence to revoke his probation. If there is, they will amend it to the other charges."

Morris already has been accused of violating his six-year probation by using alcohol and by failing to report to his probation officer seven times between July 1996 and August 1997. He was arrested on those charges on Oct. 10 by Rockwall authorities and released on $500,000 bail.

Morris' legal docket thickened on Monday, the morning after police said he and his wife, Stephanie, were involved in a violent argument with April Dawn Brittain, 27, at a party for Orlando Brown at Martin's West in Woodlawn.

According to police reports, the argument began after Morris' wife accused Brittain of having an affair with her husband. Police said the argument escalated into a fight. Morris allegedly grabbed Brittain by the arms, choked her and hit her in the back, causing scratches on her chest and red marks on her neck. Brittain also complained of bruises on her arms and back.

Ravens owner Art Modell, who brought Morris on board with a two-year, $1.8 million contract 14 months ago -- six months after the former Pittsburgh Steeler pleaded guilty to marijuana possession after Rockwall police found 6 pounds of pot in the trunk of his car -- refused to speculate on Morris' future in Baltimore.

Following his conviction, Morris served a league-imposed, five-game suspension at the start of the 1996 season. After violating the NFL's substance abuse policy by using alcohol last January, Morris was suspended again for the first four games of this season. His Ravens contract expires after the season.

"I'm not going to prejudge any case. Outside parties will take care of that. People will make that decision for me [regarding Morris' future here]," Modell said.

"We have to wait for the judicial process to go forward. You can't judge someone in a vacuum and say they're guilty when they haven't been proven guilty. I was not there [at Martin's West] on Sunday night. I want this thing behind us. It's a police matter right now."

The matter got a little stickier yesterday, when Stephanie Morris countered by filing second-degree assault charges against Brittain, alleging that Brittain struck Morris and her husband at Martin's West.

According to Morris' account of the incident, the couple had left the party when Bam re-entered Martin's to retrieve his wife's coat. After Bam was gone for a while, police said Stephanie returned to Martin's to find her husband arguing with Brittain, who allegedly slapped Morris in the face, then punched his wife in her right eye.

The police report said the two women then scuffled on the floor, before Bam broke up the fight. A trial date has been set for Jan. 14 in Catonsville District Court.

Stephanie Morris told police that Brittain and her husband had a brief relationship in 1995. She also accused Brittain of stalking Morris since then, claiming that Brittain had harassed his family and friends for information about his marriage and his personal life.

Leonard Shapiro, the attorney for Brittain, said, "I have not yet had a chance to read what Mrs. Morris alleges."

Said Wheeler: "I've been through these investigations before, and they are usually much to do about nothing. When the investigation is concluded, I think we will learn that Ms. Brittain attended a closed party, provoked and struck Stephanie and had an altercation with Stephanie and not Mr. Morris.

"I'm very disappointed the investigation could be hampered by the publicity given to Mr. Morris."

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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