A suspected drug dealer who was in George Floyd’s SUV with him when police approached on Memorial Day 2020 appeared in a Hennepin County courtroom on Monday as his public defender requested his bail be reduced so he could leave jail.
Morries Hall, 42, has four felony cases in Hennepin County and one in Redwood County. Police records show Hall was pulled over on March 20 for an expired license plate as jury selection was underway in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Hall was charged last month with violating a protection order in a 2019 domestic violence case. He had pleaded guilty to domestic violence by strangulation after admitting he choked his pregnant girlfriend for 30 seconds. As part of a plea agreement, Hall was ordered to stay away from the woman, who was the mother of his child.
On March 20, court records state the woman was in the backseat of Hall’s car when police stopped him.
A judge set his bail at $7,000 with conditions and $10,000 without conditions. Hall’s lawyer, Adrienne Cousins, said Monday that Hall’s family was trying to get the money together to pay his bail but she asked that it be reduced. Hall noted the contact was not forced.
Cousins told Judge Hilary Caligiuri on Monday that she wanted to continue the Monday hearing so a special prosecutor, Wade Kish of Anoka County, could review the case files since he did not yet have them. Cousins indicated she and Kish may be able to settle the cases by June.
Judge Caligiuri asked why she would delay the next hearing until June. Cousins indicated she believed something would transpire between now and then that could lead to a resolution of all of the cases.
“Mr. Kish and I have not yet engaged in a meaningful discussion on how to resolve these matters. Mr. Hall has been involved in a different proceeding and we have been waiting for that proceeding to resolve,” Cousins said. “We are quite literally in the middle of it right now. So I’m hoping after that ends Mr. Hall, Mr. Kish and I might have some meaningful discussions about how to get a global resolution on these matters.”
Cousins did not elaborate on what “proceeding” they were waiting to resolve but she noted “were are quite literally” in the middle of it.
The Chauvin trial is in its second week of testimony and Hall is on the witness list for the state and defense. However, Cousins filed a notice with the court last week stating Hall planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and asked Judge Peter Cahill to quash the subpoena.
“Normally when someone says, ‘I’m not testifying’, you get the prosecutor to give you immunity. You see, because the prosecutor could force Mr. Hall to testify,” said Minneapolis defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is observing the trial. “All they have to do is say ‘we’re giving you full immunity,’ which means he can’t be prosecuted for any crimes. He can’t violate his probation, nothing.” But so far, they haven’t done that.
Tamburino believes Hall may not want to testify because he could have some legal exposure in Floyd’s death if he provided the drugs that were in his system. Tamburino said third-degree murder would be the appropriate charge.
“Third degree murder has two parts. One is what Mr. Chauvin is accused of, which is a depraved mind, extremely dangerous act. The second part to third degree murder is giving someone drugs and that person dies from the drugs…If Mr. Hall doesn’t testify, it helps the prosecution,” Tamburino said.
Cahill said Monday the parties would discuss Hall at a hearing Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. before the jury arrived. An order was filed with the court Monday stating that Hall was to appear in street clothes for the 8:30 a.m. hearing via Zoom in Judge Cahill’s courtroom. Hall did appear as ordered. After a back and forth between the lawyers, the judge said he would rule on the matter on Thursday.
Hall has a case out of Redwood County from 2019 in which he faces charges for solicitation and sex trafficking. Cousins indicated the paperwork for that case was sent to the wrong address and that Hall does not miss court dates. She also stated he has a place to live and is employed.
Hall’s next court appearance is June 9 in Hennepin County. He has a hearing in Redwood County on April 12.
[Image via Law&Crime Network]
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