Arguments begin in Christina Morris kidnapping trial

Arguments begin in Morris kidnapping trial

Both sides in the Christina Morris kidnapping trial began arguments Wednesday. 

Prosecutors claim Enrique Arochi, the man last seen with her, keeps changing his story, but the defense says there's more to the story than we know. 

By late Tuesday, the jury pool had gone from 125 juror candidates down into the range of 95-105. On Wednesday morning, the defense spent time questioning the jury pool about several issues, including the ability to be impartial. After about an hour and a half of questioning the juror candidates were escorted out of the room.

Just after noon on Wednesday, both sides had agreed on 12 jurors and two alternates. The jury was divided into seven men and seven women. Once the jury was set, Judge Mark Rusch was eager to begin proceedings immediately after the lunch break.

The prosecution would start with opening arguments. Prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry started his statements by asking rhetorically, “Where is Christina Morris?” Fortenberry would go on to say “we don’t know” where the Fort Worth woman is but “we do know” who kidnapped her, at which he point he motioned to Enrique Arochi.

“[Arochi’s] story always changes,” Fortenberry said.

The state would argue that the most important facts of the case are the DNA evidence, the cellphone pings, and the surveillance video. Court documents revealed that Morris’ DNA was found in the trunk of Arochi’s  Camaro. The state said the cellphone pings on both Morris’ and Arochi’s phones coincide, telling them at one point they were in the car together. They also addressed the surveillance video that shows the two walking together in the parking lot of the Shops at Legacy.

The defense was more concerned with the timeline of events that occurred the day Morris went missing. Arochi’s attorney Keith Gore brought up multiple text messages between Morris and her boyfriend, Hunter Foster that night and morning. Foster is currently serving time as a federal inmate on drug charges. The texts included language about drug use and about the get-together Morris had attended that night.

“There's a lot more to this case than out of nowhere he decides to be an abductor/rapist,” Gore said in jest.

The text messages between Morris and Foster also detail how Morris reached out to her boyfriend multiple times over the course of the night and morning to come pick her up from Plano. Gore said Arochi was walking a woman “who was afraid of the dark” to her car. He said there's nothing out of the ordinary in the surveillance video that would suggest a crime had occurred. Gore also added that the people in the Arochi home had mentioned that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Morris' mom Jonni McElroy, dad Mark Morris, and stepmom Anna Morris have been told by Judge Rusch that they aren't allowed in the courtroom because they're sworn witnesses. Fortenberry made a motion to the judge to allow the immediate family in the courtroom but the judge denied it.

More witnesses are expected Thursday morning when trial begins at 8:30 a.m.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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