Woman charged with murder in shooting death of Clinton Officer Ryan Morton
Tammy Widger, 37, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Clinton Officer Ryan Morton, by Henry County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Widger allegedly committed felony murder because Morton was shot and killed “as a result of the perpetration of the class C felony of delivery of a controlled substance,” according to court records.
John Picerno, a Kansas City defense attorney, said that during the commission of a felony, a person can be charged with murder even without directly killing someone.
Neighbors who witnessed the shooting scene in Clinton, Mo. on Tuesday night talk of multiple gunshots, an officer bleeding from his arm and pleadings for their wounded officer inside the house to hang on. Officer Christopher Morton, 30, was killed.
Widger, 37, said she has not been provided with a public defender as she sits in jail facing charges.
Widger has been in the Henry County jail since the night of March 6, when police arrived at her home at 306 W. Grandriver St. after a 911 call made 20 miles away mistakenly sent officers there.
Henry County emergency communications officials later said that a database error sent police to the wrong address. An investigation into that error is ongoing.
According to court documents, Widger answered the door and said there was no disturbance. She had not made a 911 call, she said. Five officers went into the house anyway, to ensure no one was being harmed, authorities said.
An armed man, later identified as James Waters, was at the house. Soon after the officers entered, gunfire erupted. Morton was mortally wounded. Four officers escaped, two of them wounded.Morton lay dying in the home and officers were unable to reach him for hours because of the gunfire. About midnight that night, a Missouri Highway Patrol SWAT team entered the house and Waters was found dead.
Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was identified as the officer shot and killed in Clinton, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Morton was a twice-deployed veteran who joined the Army National Guard in 2005. In this 2014 video, Morton sen U.S. Army; Monty Davis, curator
Widger was arrested at the scene. She was charged that day with keeping or maintaining a public nuisance by using her home to sell methamphetamine, according to Henry County prosecutors. She allegedly told investigators that in exchange for helping Waters distribute methamphetamine, he agreed to pay her bills, according to court documents.
Prosecutors say that investigators serving a search warrant found a purse with Widger’s identification inside and a bag containing what appeared to be marijuana, meth and pills, each packaged separately. A day after the shooting, she was charged with delivery of a controlled substance.
Widger made her first court appearance via video March 8 and remains in custody. Her bond has been raised to $100,000. She asked to be represented by a public defender, but according to court records no attorney has been appointed to her case more than a week after her arrest. Widger is scheduled to appear in court April 6.
Thousands of law enforcement officers and members of the military attended Morton’s funeral in Clinton on Monday. After the funeral service, more than 100 law enforcement vehicles escorted Clinton Officer Christopher Ryan Morton to be laid to rest Monday. Morton was killed while answering a disturbance call last week. Jill Toyoshiba and Joe Robertson The Kansas City Star
The Star’s Joe Robertson and Glenn E. Rice contributed to this story.