Trial begins in mother, daughter deaths

James Morrison accused in shooting deaths of Laura Moten, daughter Krystle

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - An argument that began over a woman's reaction to her boyfriend's drunken behavior ended in the death of the woman's mother and sister.

Laura Moten and her daughter, Krystle, were shot to death on April 18, 2009, investigators said. Candice Moten, Laura Moten's other daughter, was critically injured.

The accused gunman is James Morrison, Candice Moten's boyfriend at the time of the shootings.

As Morrison's trial began on Monday, prosecutors told the jury that Morrison had picked up his girlfriend at work that night and had been drinking.

She called police after he passed out on the sidewalk outside her apartment, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the three women confronted him and he got up.

Neighbor Douglas Read said he was outside his apartment nearby.

"I hear gunshots and women screaming," Read testified. "And then silence."

Suddenly, he said, more shots.

"There was about four, five, (maybe) six more shots," Read said. "After that, I saw a gentleman walk away from where I'd assumed the shots came from."

He said he rushed to the scene and saw all three woman lying on the ground bleeding.

He approached Candice Moten, Morrison's girlfriend.

"I do remember asking her if she knows who did this and she said yes," Read said.

Prosecutor Jan Isel asked, "Did she tell you who it was?"

Read replied "No, I didn't ask."

Morrison's lawyer, Joel Perez, said the woman and Morrison had a history of violent arguments and that his client fired in self-defense.

"The evidence is going to show you that James was in fear of his life at the moment in time that this incident happened," Perez said during opening arguments. "There was a prior existing relationship of aggression from these women."

If Morrison is found guilty of capital murder, the jury has two punishment options: life in prison without the possibility of parole or execution.

Testimony will continue on Tuesday in Judge Ron Rangel's 379th District Court.

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