Charges against Suffolk delegate withdrawn; family accuses police, prosecutor of misconduct

Delegate Rick Morris (R - 64th District) walks into court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 16, 2016. (WAVY Photo)

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Four charges against Del. Rick Morris (R – 64th District) were nolle prossed — or withdrawn Wednesday.

Del. Morris faced two counts of child cruelty and two counts assault and battery of a family member.

The case dates back to September 2016.

REALTED: Grand jury indicts Del. Morris on more charges

Delegate Morris was charged with more than a dozen counts including felonies. He was accused of assaulting his step son and his wife.

Three months later, after the preliminary hearing, several charges were withdrawn, but others still stood.

Wednesday the last of them — four in all were withdrawn, too.

“The best word to describe it is pleased, relieved that this is done,” Nicole Belote, Del. Morris’ defense attorney, told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings.

But Kevin Kulp, Assistant Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney calls the outcome unfortunate.

“Conviction or acquittal, I think a lot of people were hoping to reach a resolution this week,” he said.

In court, through video Kulp told special appointed Judge John Wetsel, of Winchester, that charges were withdrawn because the victim relocated and they haven’t been able to make contact.

“Prior to preliminary hearing Mrs. Morris was very much on board with this prosecution. She was very cooperative with this prosecution. Afterwards she took Mr. Morris’ side, Delegate Morris’ side. She came out in the press against her son. The child was then sent away to live with his father in Texas,” Kulp told Cummings after the hearing.

Outside the courtroom, Kathryn Morris said her son no longer wanted to testify and was sent to Texas because of his behavior.

“In January 2017 his behavior became even worse as he had run away several times. At the recommendation of Suffolk CPS my son went to live with his father in Texas,” Morris said. ”For the Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney, Mr. Anton Bell, to accuse my son’s father and I of hiding him is completely false and is slander.”

To that Kulp responded, “I do not think it’s an unreasonable inference for anyone to make that perhaps the child was sent to hamper this prosecution.”

Delegate Morris also accused a Suffolk detective of misconduct.

“With an incomplete investigation and even in the interview with this boy she corrected his lies and his stories and the evidence she gathered herself even contradicted his own story. He even contradicted his own story,” Delegate Morris said.

The Morris’ said they have filed a complaint with the Suffolk Police Department and are considering legal action against the commonwealth’s attorney.

10 On Your Side contacted both the City of Suffolk and Anton Bell.

Through an email from city spokeswoman Diana Klink, Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett confirmed that “There is an active Internal Affairs Investigation” and said he “Will not comment any further.”

The officer remains an employee of the Suffolk Police Department.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell said of the allegations, “My office and I have prosecuted this case with the utmost integrity. Moreover, I stand by any statements made publicly about the handling of this case.”

Stay with wavy.com for developments.


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