|Family of murdered teen prays for recovery of body |
|Posted: Monday, December 19, 2011 9:11 pm |
|The family of Carlee Morse is clinging to I Thessalonians 5:17 — “pray without ceasing.” |
They are praying for the recovery of the teenage girl’s body.
Miss Morse — the granddaughter of Molene Marshall and the niece of Sherry Johnston and Doris Marshall, all of Obion County — was reported missing Aug. 20, 2010, from her home in Westland, Mich.
Four months later, the family learned the 16-year-old girl had been murdered. Two suspects were apprehended and have since pleaded guilty to reduced charges, but Miss Morse’s body has never been found.
Family has previously told The Messenger that Miss Morse frequently visited her grandmother in this area and attended Reelfoot Baptist Church, where she was baptized. They said she hoped to move to Obion County, but her family now hopes to recover her body and bring it here for burial with her family.
Two men — Justin Yoshi-kawa, 20, of Belleville, Mich., and Nicholas Cottrell, 23, of Taylor, Mich. — were initially charged with first-degree murder in Miss Morse’s murder and ultimately entered guilty pleas to reduced charges of second-degree murder.
Yoshikawa was sentenced Thursday to 35-65 years in prison, while Cottrell was sentenced in February to 25-50 years in prison, according to a story in The Westland Observer newspaper.
Cottrell appeared in court last week in an attempt to have his plea bargain overturned, but a judge denied the motion, which apparently was filed past a six-month deadline for appealing a plea.
The Observer reported Cottrell had already violated the terms of the plea bargain last month when he refused to testify against co-defendant Yoshikawa. As a result, Cottrell’s testimony from the 18th District Court preliminary examination was read into the record during Yoshikawa’s trial. On the third day of the trial, Yoshikawa entered a plea bargain to the second-degree murder charge.
Yoshikawa was identified by authorities as a former boyfriend of Miss Morse.
According to The Observ-er’s stories from Thursday, in testimony and statements made to police, both Cottrell and Yoshikawa gave similar accounts of luring Miss Morse from her apartment into Cottrell’s car just after midnight Aug. 20, 2010. Cottrell drove to a deserted parking lot and parked while Yoshikawa, who had been hidden in the back seat, used a dog leash to strangle Miss Morse, described as 4-feet-8-inches tall and about 80 pounds.
Both men indicated Yoshi-kawa had been angry with Miss Morse and that spurred his alleged plan to kill her. According to their statements and testimony, the men later put Miss Morse into trash bags and drove around aimlessly before putting her body into a dumpster outside a church. Her body still has not been located. The men told police they had been smoking marijuana and were unable to identify the church location.
From the time of her disappearance in August until December 2010 when Yoshikawa and Cottrell were arrested, Miss Morse’s family continued trying to find her, according to The Observer’s story.
Cottrell’s mother, Tina Marie Lowe, 49, was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to a reduced charged of interfering with a police investigation. She had been charged with accessory after the fact to a felony and interfering with the investigation after allegedly trying to convince a witness not to talk to police about Miss Morse’s death.
In a victim impact statement read in court Thursday, Miss Morse’s mother, Laurie Morse, described herself as angry and frustrated over her daughter’s body not being found, according to The Observer. She said she believes Yoshikawa, Cottrell and even Cottrell’s mother know where to find her. Published in The Messenger 12.19.11