Was state's key witness in homicide trial getting chilly ft?

JERSEY CITY — Was the state’s key witness in the murder trial of Isaiah Huggins about to back out of testifying yesterday?

When Romance Morrison, 19, was called to the witness stand yesterday there was a long delay before he finally entered the courtroom and testified that it was Huggins, 18, who fatally shot Rondell Rush, 17, on Fulton Avenue near Martin Luther King Driver on April 26, 2017.

This morning, defense attorney Mary Ciancimino told Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mark Nelson that she was told someone prodded Morrison yesterday by telling him he had better get into the courtroom and testify or he was going to jail.

Ciancimino said it was important because while cross-examining Morrison yesterday she asked him if anyone had threatened him to testify, to which he replied, “No.”

Nelson asked Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mullens to find out what, if anything, was said to Morrison in the hallway outside the courtroom. The judge said there is a potential it could be some exculpatory value for Huggins.

The judge gave Mullens until Tuesday to provide him with the information.

During Ciancimino’s continued cross-examination today, Morrison admitted that his first statement to investigators was a complete lie. He told them he was home the entire day Rush was killed.  

During the sometimes heated questioning, Ciancimino pointed out inconsistencies in his statement to investigators and repeatedly confronted him with the transcript of his statements when he denied having said something or said he did not remember something.  

The defense contends Morrison was the killer. At one point today, Ciancimino noted that a detective told Morrison that “‘You knew we were coming for you eventually,’ and you said ‘Yes'” Morrison admitted he answered in the affirmative.   

At one point during questioning today, Morrison began laughing while looking at a transcript of his statement and said “This is something different. I never said that.” Ciancimino reminded him that the transcript made from his video-recorded statement was provided by the prosecution.

When Ciancimino asked Morrison to make a mark on a map showing where he met Huggins that day, he refused and repeatedly said “You mark it.”

When the defense attorney asked Morrison to stand and show the jury how Huggins had pulled out the gun, he refused. Nelson told him to do as Ciancimino asked but Morrison still refused. Finally, Nelson asked Ciancimino to move on to the next question.

Ciancimino suggested that after admitting his first story was false, investigators guided him as he provided the statement implicating Huggins. Morrison said they did not.

Morrison’s legal guardian was in the room during the interview and left briefly. Reading from the transcript, Ciancimino noted that while she and Morrison were alone, the aunt told him “I just spoke to the captain. He’s gonna try to help you with everything.”

The defense attorney also noted that Morrison was charged…

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