Accused officer takes stand in own defense

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-A former Riviera Beach police officer took the witness stand Wednesday, trying to refute the criminal charges against him.

Maurice Morris is accused of coercing a woman to have sex with him, telling her he would drop her traffic tickets. The allegations grew out of a traffic stop last year after Morris wrapped up an off-duty security assignment at candidate Barack Obama's campaign stop in Lake Worth. Morris gave a woman a traffic citation in Riviera Beach. Then investigators say he followed the woman back to her West Palm Beach apartment.

But on the witness stand, Morris told jurors it was the woman who followed him, flagged him down, and convinced him to come to her apartment to help her with an "emergency." Morris said he was there an hour, but insisted there was no sex. He also maintained he destroyed no tickets.

On cross examination, prosecutor Daliah Weiss asked Morris, "You're asking this jury to believe that you had Kool Aid and shared pictures of the family? Is that what your testimony is?"

"Yes, ma'am," Morris replied, "and had conversations, long conversations with her."

Morris told jurors he was a 15-year veteran of the Riviera Beach Police Department, but is now retired.

Morris' trial resumes Friday, with closing arguments scheduled.