Case held, Morris to finish season Probation hearing reset for Jan. 12 for Raven

November 26, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Running back Bam Morris is free to finish the season in a Ravens uniform, after a Texas court postponed until Jan. 12 a hearing at which Morris must answer charges that he violated the terms of his six-year probation.

Morris was in Rockwall County District Court yesterday, when Judge Sue Pirtle granted a motion by District Attorney Ray Sumrow to amend recent, second-degree assault charges to two other probation conditions that Morris allegedly violated.

A preliminary hearing, should either side want to introduce any last pre-trial motions, has been set for Dec. 30.

Morris was returning to Baltimore last night, and was expected ++ to join the Ravens at practice today.

"Bam's spirits are good. But he's concerned, as well he should be," said Keith Wheeler, Morris' attorney. "It's a serious proceeding."

Before his probation is possibly revoked, Morris is scheduled for a Dec. 17 trial in Catonsville District Court. He has been charged with assaulting a Texas woman, April Dawn Brittain, 10 days ago at a birthday party for teammate Orlando Brown at Martin's West in Woodlawn.

Sumrow said he intends to travel to Baltimore next week to begin interviewing witnesses related to that case. He added that the rescheduled Rockwall date had nothing to do with the timing related to Morris' assault trial.

"That [case] really doesn't have any impact on us," Sumrow said. "It's two different burdens of proof. That [criminal] case in Baltimore involves evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Here in Texas, this is a probation case that only requires a preponderance of evidence.

TTC "Personally, I would have liked to have seen [the January probation hearing] set a lot earlier, but the court has to work things into its schedule. And this, I gather, is the first day the court could hear it."

Yesterday in court, Morris denied committing assault in Maryland.

Wheeler said he expects the January hearing to take two to four days to complete.

"Where the case is headed at this point is an examination of the assault claim. That could well be the focus between now and the Jan. 12 hearing," Wheeler said. "I don't think it's likely Mr. Sumrow will pursue the [assault] case if the Baltimore court finds to be unfounded."

Yesterday's court date originally was set for Morris to face charges of violating his probation by using alcohol and failing to report to his probation officer seven times between July 1996 and August 1997.

That six-year probation resulted from Morris pleading guilty to marijuana possession after his arrest in March 1996 on Interstate 30 near Rockwall, where police found nearly 6 pounds of pot in the trunk of his car. Morris, who rather than probation could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, served a five-game, NFL-imposed suspension at the start of last season. While on suspension, he signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Ravens.

Morris then violated the league's substance abuse policy last January. He served a four-game suspension at the beginning of this season.

Morris, 25, a four-year veteran who missed another game this season with a toe injury, has rushed for a team-high 605 yards in seven games, averaging 4.1 yards a carry. He leads the Ravens with three rushing touchdowns. He also has caught 19 passes for another 114 yards.

L Morris becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season.

NOTE: Running back Earnest Byner, cornerback Antonio Langham and safety Stevon Moore donated Thanksgiving dinners to more than 100 needy families yesterday at the Police Athletic League's Gwynn Falls center.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Site: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Line: Jaguars by 8

Series: Jaguars lead 3-0

Last meeting: Jaguars won, 28-27, on Aug. 31 at Memorial Stadium

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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