Drama outside Henrico courthouse after Morrissey's indictments are dismissed
HENRICO (WWBT) - A Henrico judge dismissed all indictments Wednesday in an ongoing perjury and forgery case against former delegate Joe Morrissey.
The judge ruled the charges had to be thrown out, because they stem from Morrissey's plea agreement to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The plea agreement includes an immunity clause, which states no future charges would be filed in connection to the case. The judge felt the clause was so broad the perjury charges would raise double jeopardy concerns.
But the judge's decision led to drama outside the courthouse with a confrontation between the young woman Morrissey had an inappropriate relationship with when she was underage, Myrna Pride, and her father, Coleman Pride. Coleman called police in the first place.
"You know exactly what this individual is doing okay, this individual continues to extort individuals," says Coleman. "Stop It!" Myrna said back. As Coleman continues to try to talk to his daughter, she continually tells him to stop. "Why is he running to your rescue?" says Coleman. "Stop it you're making a fool of yourself!" says Myrna. "You're my daughter I love you!" says Coleman. During that exchange, Morrissey comes to Myrna's side to escort her and her mother to the parking lot.
Prosecutors must now decide how to proceed in the case. The judge urged them to bring the matter to an appeals court, as he felt the public has a right to a hearing.
Morrissey pleaded guilty to the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge in December. Prosecutors said he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who worked as a part-time receptionist at his law office. Morrissey, then a delegate, entered an Alford Plea to the misdemeanor count, which means he does not admit guilt, but understands there's enough evidence for him to be found guilty at trial.
A judge sentenced Morrissey to 12 months in jail with six months suspended. He served three months at Henrico Jail East while on work release to practice law and serve in the General Assembly.
However, prosecutors brought new perjury charges against Morrissey and the girl's mother, Deidre Warren, saying they falsified documents in the teen sex case. Investigators searched Morrissey's law office for child support documents which Morrissey's defense team claim were the reason a then 17-year-old part-time employee was at his home on the night of August 23, 2013. They say the teen went to discuss child support she was owed by her father, Coleman Pride. Prosecutors say the girl was there as part of a sexual relationship between the two.
Pride denies ever signing the form and says he never owed child support to his daughter. Prosecutors say the entire second page of the document is a fabricated public record and Warren perjured herself when testifying it was authentic.
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