Assistant District Attorney Mark Lee urged the members of the jury in the trial of Maurice Morrison, 31, to disregard the defendant’s “look-over-here defense” and convict him of the 2013 double murder of Zouaoui Dani-Elkebir, 52, and Karima El-Hakim, 38, as he made his closing argument yesterday morning.
“If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, sometimes it is a duck” said Lee, who is deputy chief of the DA’s Homicide Unit. He argued that Morrison murdered El-Hakim and her boyfriend Dani-Elkebir because evidence showed that she was blackmailing him, and asked for the jury to convict him for two counts of first degree murder with premeditation, as well as illegal possession of a firearm.
Morrison, a Chelsea resident, has been held without bail since May 30, 2013. He has been accused of entering a livery car owned by Dani-Elkebir in the early morning hours of May 13, 2013 and shooting him and El-Hakim twice in the back of the head as they sat in the front seats of the vehicle, which has been identified as a Ford LTD.
Morrison’s attorney Jonathan Shapiro argued that the prosecution and the police had “failed to pursue leads that might have led to significant evidence of Mr Morrison’s innocence.” He said that the investigating officers, Trooper Joel Balducci and Trooper Genevieve Gibbons of the Suffolk County State Police, had not looked into leads suggesting convicted drug dealer Jesus “Tony” Ruiz had murdered the victims “execution style…intending to send a message to snitches.”
El-Hakim had tipped off police about Tony’s drug operations, so he contacted his associate “Mikey” (real name unknown) from the Suffolk County Jail and had her killed, according to Shapiro. Neither the prosecution nor the police looked at phone records of the jail after receiving this tip even though “everybody in Chelsea except the police believed that Ruiz was responsible,” he said.
Shapiro also said that the two primary witnesses for the prosecution, Morrison’s childhood friend Frank Gerena and El-Hakim’s associate Heather Gormley, could not be trusted, while Lee stated that they were not the “smartest people,” but their “stories linked up.”
Judge Kenneth Salinger presided over the court’s proceedings and said during the instructions to the jury that even though Morrison had refused to testify, the jury could not presume his guilt on that basis. The 12 jury members were sent to deliberate at 11:50 a.m.