Woman convicted of injuring husband

Published 10:11 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Mocksville man ended up in the hospital after his wife tried to prevent them from leaving their home in 2016. She appeared in Davie Superior Court July 11 on a felony charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

Tammy Howell Morrison, 59, and Royal Junior Morrison Sr., 63, were married on Dec. 31, 1999 and were happy for about a year or so, according to Royal. But then things changed.

“She had a tendency to get overwrought,” he told the jury of nine women and three men. “If you look at someone, talk to a female, it’s wrong, we don’t do that.”

He ended up leaving the marital home on Campbell Road to live with his mother and daughters, and the couple separated legally in 2005. In 2016, Royal moved back in with Tammy to help her manage her diabetes and life after a stroke, but her jealousy reared its head again on Feb. 16.

“I felt obligated to go help her,” he said. “I helped her pay her bills, get her medicine, do things for her. That day, I came in from work, watched TV a little, washed the dishes and was going to fix my lunch for work the next day. I went outside to throw the greasy water away. It was dark and the porch light wasn’t on. My next door neighbor (Sheena) and her children pulled up and I was talking to her when Tammy came out and said, ‘Why you out here talking to this woman with the porch light not on?’ and then she started cursing her and me.”

Royal went back into the house and tried to talk to Tammy, who told him to get his stuff and get out. He testified after she went into her bedroom, slamming the door, he packed his things into two black garbage bags, fixed his lunch for work and watched television until around 2:30 a.m., waking about three hours later to get ready for work. Royal’s ride to work showed up at 5:45 but it was raining and he didn’t want to put the bags of belongings into the back of the friend’s pickup truck, so he told him to go on and instead called his nephew, Quintin, to come get him so he could store his things at his house and get a ride to work.

“Quintin came, blowed the horn…I got up, got my bags ready to go out, and I got one foot out the door before Tammy came up behind me and said, ‘You ain’t goin no damn where.’ She grabbed my coat and snatched me down. I hit the floor and she kicked the door closed with her foot. I didn’t know I was hurt until I tried to get up. She asked me if I was hurt and I said yes, and she said, ‘Good. That’s what you get for hurting me for 20 years.’”

Royal described the pain as “excruciating and unbearable, way beyond a 10.” He was transported to the hospital by ambulance, and an x-ray revealed a broken femur. His surgeon, Dr. Ralph Moore III, testified when he first saw Royal, Tammy was in the room with him. Moore didn’t ask how the break occurred, saying they almost always are the result of a fall, and that, to prevent blood clots and pneumonia, it’s best to operate as quickly as possible, which he did, that evening. Moore noted Royal’s weight on his hospital records was around 95 pounds.

Tammy stayed in Royal’s room, Moore testified, and wasn’t taking her diabetes medicine, which landed her in the emergency room. In her absence, Royal was able to tell the doctor about the altercation; Moore testified he thought it was “unusual an ex-wife” would be in her husband’s room. “There was a concern about her coming back to his hospital room so we had to make arrangements for her to be prevented from coming back into his room. The default is we protect the patient and let someone else figure it out after the fact. I’m not a detective or a sleuth,” he said.

When he was discharged from the hospital, Royal went with his sister, accompanied by the police, to get his belongings from the home. He stayed in the car. Part-time Mocksville police officer Jeffrey Barney testified after assisting with removing Royal’s things from the home, he took a statement from Royal in the car he was in at the courthouse because he couldn’t comfortably get in and out of the car.

Royal’s attorney, Ryan Addison, asked Barney, “Wouldn’t it have been best practice to get a statement from Mrs. Morrison at that time?” Barney answered, “Yes, I should have. It wasn’t in my paradigm at the time but I should have, yes. It was a mistake on my part.”

Tammy was arrested and placed under a $1,500 secured bond but was released from the jail due to medical concerns.

Assistant DA Kaitlyn Jones asked Barney if Tammy was able to walk under her own power, and he said she was. During the two days Tammy appeared in court for her trial, she walked slowly and cried out audibly upon sitting.

Royal testified he is in constant pain, has not been able to return to work, takes pain medicine daily and has trouble caring for himself. “I can’t really do nothing. I can barely take a bath. I used to could walk all the way uptown but I can’t do nothing like I used to and I won’t be able to ever again,” he said.

Addison asked Royal why the couple never divorced, and Royal said, “I didn’t think it was relevant because I figured we’d never get back together anyway.

“Do you know if Sheena still lives on Campbell Road?” Addison asked Royal. “Not to my knowledge,” Royal answered. “So you don’t know where she lives?” Addison asked, and Royal responded, “No.” Under his breath but loudly enough to be heard across the courtroom, Royal added, “I wish I did.”

Noting there were people outside the residence when Royal fell, who didn’t come in to check on him, Addison asked why that was, and Royal said it was because no one in his family likes Tammy.

After a lunch break and with the jury out of the room, Addison made a motion to dismiss based on a lack of evidence to support the charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury, citing another case where the court decided the injury suffered didn’t qualify as serious. Jones argued against it, saying the victim in that case was healed at the time of the trial and was able to enjoy unrestricted physical activity, which was not the case with Royal. Judge Kevin Bridges denied the motion.

In her closing argument, Assistant DA Marissa Kuzbyt said the case was about actions and consequences, the action Tammy took and the consequence from which Royal will suffer for the rest of his life. She noted how Royal held his hip and limped to the witness stand and said whether Tammy intended to hurt him was not the issue.

“Her actions are the reason Mr. Morrison will continue to suffer from this serious bodily injury,” she said.

Addison reminded the jury Tammy is presumed innocent and that no other witnesses came forward to corroborate Royal’s story.

“There were no EMTs called to testify, we didn’t hear from Sheena or Quintin; the state could have called Quintin. You don’t know who did this; he (Royal) could have just as easily fallen.”

The jury deliberated less than an hour before delivering a guilty verdict. Bridges sentenced Tammy to 13-25 months, suspended 24 months probation. She was ordered to not assault, threaten, or harass Royal and must submit a DNA sample.

She must also pay court costs and as civil judgments, attorney fees of $1,860 and $37,070.39 restitution for medical bills.