Search the Archive:

December 21, 2005

Back to the Table of Contents Page

Back to The Almanac Home Page


Publication Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Witnesses called in Morrow murder hearing Witnesses called in Morrow murder hearing (December 21, 2005)

By Andrea Gemmet

Almanac Staff Writer

Joe Morrow's three daughters, sitting together and dressed in identical sweaters, burst into tears at the sight of their father when he entered San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Craig Parson's courtroom on Monday, December 19.

Mr. Morrow is facing murder charges in the 1991 killing of their mother, Donna Morrow. The defense attorney asked Prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe if the young women could give their father a hug.

Mr. Morrow was in court for a second day of hearings on his request to dismiss the murder charges.

The hearing is set to continue on Thursday, January 5, when two more witnesses are set to testify -- San Jose Mercury News reporter Sarah Wykes and a former Menlo Park police detective, Joyce Kiesnowski.

If the murder charges are not dismissed, Mr. Morrow faces a jury trial on charges of murder for financial gain. The trial is set to begin January 17.

Prosecutors said Mr. Morrow killed his wife, 37-year-old Donna Morrow, in their Menlo Park home shortly before Christmas in 1991, hid her body and subsequently fled the country.

In the hearing, Mr. Morrow's attorney Robert Courshon is arguing that police bungled the investigation and that the district attorney's office took too long to press charges.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Morrow plotted to kill his wife and secretly buried her body on a remote 36-acre undeveloped property in Los Gatos. Mr. Morrow reported Donna Morrow missing to police shortly before Christmas in 1991, saying his wife had walked out of their College Avenue house four days earlier following an argument, leaving behind the couple's four small children.

Ms. Morrow's skeletal remains were discovered in September 2003, after handyman Jose Maldonado came forward and showed investigators the area where Mr. Morrow had instructed him to dig an 8-foot-deep hole shortly before Ms. Morrow disappeared.

Mr. Morrow's defense attorneys contend that if police had done a more thorough investigation, Ms. Morrow's body would have been found much sooner and crucial forensic evidence that could exonerate their client might have been recovered.

The owner of a property adjoining the 36-acre parcel where Ms. Morrow's remains were found allegedly conducted his own search, discovered the rough location of the body, and contacted police anonymously in 1994.

Menlo Park police believe that Mr. Morrow wanted to avoid an expensive divorce. After police were unable to locate Mr. Morrow for years, he was found living under an assumed name in the Philippines and extradited to the U.S. on passport fraud charges in January 2003. He is being held without bail in San Mateo County Jail.

E-mail a friend a link to this story.

Copyright © 2005 Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Reproduction or online links to anything other than the home page
without permission is strictly prohibited.