Murder charge against man dismissed

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Vincent Morrison

A second-degree murder charge was dropped Monday against a man accused of killing one woman and shooting at another in two separate incidents, court record show.

Vincent Morrison, 31, of Maryville, had been charged with second-degree murder for the August 22 death of Aisha Cates in a drive-by shooting in Walter P. Taylor Homes. He’s also accused of shooting at his fiancé six months ago and allegedly robbing a man in July.

Morrison appeared for a preliminary hearing in Knox County General Sessions Court on the murder charge, accordingly Knox County District Attorney General’s Office spokesperson Sean McDermott. 

A key prosecution witness, however, didn’t show up for the hearing and Morrison’s defense attorney immediately filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge, McDermott said.  

Judge Charles Cerny then granted the motion to dismiss the case, records show.

McDermott didn’t say who the witness was or answer questions about whether prosecutors knew beforehand that the witness planned to miss the hearing.

Despite the judge’s order dismissing the murder charge, the case against Morrison isn’t necessarily over. Prosecutors can re-file murder charges against him in several ways, such as by presenting the case to a grand jury. McDermott, however, didn’t say whether prosecutors intend to continue pursuing the murder charge.

According to the arrest warrant filed in the slaying of Cates, a female witness saw Morrison and Cates “involved in a physical altercation” about 3:15 a.m. August 22 at McConnell Avenue near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. 

  The witness said she tried to get Morrison away from Cates, but he pulled away from her, the warrant states. 

“As the witness was turning to leave, she heard a single gunshot,” the warrant says. “As she turned back toward the altercation, she saw the victim falling and the suspect walking away. The victim died as a result of the gunshot.”

The witness later picked Morrison out of a police lineup, the warrant says. 

Morrison is also accused of shooting at his then-fiancé in North Knoxville on March 5 and robbing a man at gunpoint on July 18 after entering a home on Keener Avenue. 

Charges against Morrison in connection with those incidents are currently pending grand jury review, records show.

It wasn’t clear if Morrison remained jailed or had been freed on bond Tuesday night because the Knox County Sheriff’s Office website appeared to be malfunctioning. 

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on December 1, 2021.