David Lee Morse, a former Henry County Sheriff’s Office investigator, and two other people were back in Henry County Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon to have their cases set for trial on charges that the three conspired to kill Morse’s wife.
Morse, 67, of 1385 Wingfield Orchard Road in Henry County, is charged with the first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Pamela Morse, 63, who was found on May 13, 2020, in her bed with a gunshot wound to the head.
Morse is represented by Martinsville attorney Michael McPheeters and will be the first of the three to stand trial. Circuit Court Judge David Williams set a five-day jury trial to begin on Nov. 29 at 9 a.m.
Casey Lynn Rogers, 27, of Meadows of Dan is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and grand larceny of an automobile. She is represented by Martinsville attorney John Swezey, who took the case over for Danville attorney Jason Eisner.
Swezey requested a new court date to set trial, and Williams granted Swezey’s request.
Rogers will appear again in Henry County Circuit Court on Jan. 26 to have her trial date set.
Collin Joshua Russell, 37, of Roanoke is also charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and grand larceny of an automobile. Martinsville attorney Perry Harrold is representing Russell.
Harrold told Williams on Wednesday that he thought he would be ready for trial by the end of the month, but would let him know if he discovered that he could not be.
McPheeters, sitting in the gallery behind Harrold, leaned over and could be heard telling Harrold that his client, Morse, was “absolutely ready” for trial and offered to exchange court dates with Harrold.
Harrold asked Williams if the offer would be acceptable to him and also asked Henry County Commonwealth Attorney Andrew Nester if he had an issue with exchanging dates with McPheeters.
Finding no objections, Harrold conferred with Russell and then told Williams he would give Russell’s trial date of Nov. 29 to McPheeters in exchange for Morse’s original court date in December.
Russell will now appear in Henry County Circuit Court on Dec. 22 to have a new trial date set.
Charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder against Tanna Shelton Fitzgerald, Morse’s alleged lover, were dismissed after Fitzgerald died in October 2020, while in the Henry County Jail after notifying deputies that she had taken an excessive amount of prescription blood pressure medication, a Henry County Sheriff’s Office release stated.
Henry County Public Safety responded to the jail and transported Fitzgerald to Sovah-Martinsville. When Fitzgerald arrived at the hospital, she was described as “alert, coherent and not displaying any signs of medical distress,” the release said.
Fitzgerald was admitted to the hospital and died overnight.
On May 13, 2020, David Morse reported that he arrived home from work that morning and found his wife dead of an apparent gunshot wound and her 2010 Jeep Compass missing.
The Virginia State Police took over the investigation at the request of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office because David Morse is a retired investigator with the HCSO.
VSP’s investigators determined that David Morse, Fitzgerald, Russell and Rogers allegedly devised a plan to kill Pamela Morse when David Morse was not at home.
Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.