A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Saga of Stephanie Morosi

In July of 2006, she purchased a pistol for her own protection. In August, she removed two of her boyfriend's handguns from her house because she was scared. He had been in the agonizing grip of depression, with suicidal and homicidal ideation. She began going to classes for victims of criminal domestic violence. Stephanie Morosi had known Jason Truitt for about five years, but had been dating him for only a short time when he decided to move in with her. The relationship quickly became volatile, and she threw the 270 pound six foot Truitt out. She began eviction proceedings.

Then, on September 14, 2006, while Morosi was painting shutters in her brick ranch style home, Truitt burst inside through an unlocked door. He was wearing a hunting knife on his belt, and he demanded money.......and to move back in. "I think he went to my house desperate, he was penniless and broke," said Morosi.

An argument ensued with Morosi standing her ground and Truitt becoming more enraged. Morosi retreated to her bathroom to calm herself. "Please leave and be gone when I come out," she pleaded.

When she opened the door, Truitt was still there. Stephanie Morosi grasped for her telephone. Truitt grabbed a steak knife off a counter and snarled "You're not calling the police."

The 108 pound Morosi ran to her bedroom where she kept her Bersa Thunder .380 pistol hidden in a pillow. As she ran around the bed, Truitt leaped on top of it. Pulling the firearm from the pillow, she shot Truitt three times, in his abdomen, neck and head. As her attacker lay dying, she dropped the gun, and ran to a neighbor's home to call 911.

The neighbor wrapped the girl, who was still in shock, in a blanket. "The shock, the blood just drains from your body," says Morosi. She cooperated with investigators, telling them she had shot her attacker in self defense. Before they left, Stephanie Morosi was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither knife Truitt was carrying was taken into evidence.

Stephanie Morosi would spend three months locked up at the Berkeley County Detention Center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, but she was alive. During that time, it became public that she had worked as an escort. The local media sensationalized her primary source of income. Her sister came from Virginia and sold their childhood home so Morosi could obtain funds for her $75,000 bail. In December 2006, she made bail. Still, she realized the people around her everywhere in Charleston were whispering. She was able to find employment at an IHOP restaurant, but left after it was twice robbed.

It took twenty months for Stephanie Morosi and her attorney, Paul Thurmond to have their day in court. When they appeared before 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, Morosi's charges were dropped. The Ninth Circuit Solicitor's office released a statement declaring the evidence showed Morosi was protecting herself and that she was in fear for her life. No kidding. She was a victim. Even in subsequent interviews, it seemed the media wanted to focus on Stephanie Morosi's work as an escort rather than her right to self defense.

Paul Thurmond said police would not have been so quick to arrest Morosi had she been in a different line of work, say, a school teacher. "I don’t think a reasonable person would say she would receive less scrutiny than the teacher," Thurmond said. Self defense does not end when the attacker is incapacitated. Protecting oneself in the legal jungle is sure to follow.

Today, Stephanie Morosi is living on a friend’s sofa. Although she has been a published writer since the age of twelve, she does not want to write about this experience. She fears the wagging tongues will claim she committed murder in order to write a book. Instead, she hopes to set up a support group to help women escape domestic violence. She is putting the remaining funds from the liquidation of her home to good use. She is attending Trident Technical College. She hopes to become a registered nurse. May she reach all of her aspirations. Good Luck Stephanie.



Blogger Not Too Pensive said...

Good luck, Stephanie.

Not knowing everything, it's hard to pass judgment. It's a shame that people with an unrelated criminal past are treated as if they're cold-blooded killers from time to time - being an escort is a far cry away from murder - but it happens way too often.

I'll say it again:

Whatever you do, get an attorney who specializes in criminal law before you talk to the police. If for no other reason than to simply calm down, take a step back, and make sure everything comes out cool, calm, and collected.

Do not believe the police when they say it will "be better" if you talk to them first, or that speaking with an attorney will harm you. It will not. The law is very, very complicated on self-defense matters, and your basic understanding of, say, the castle doctrine (which, incidentally, is likely a misunderstanding - probably through no fault of your own because, once again, the law in this area is very complicated) or whatever you were taught in your CCW class is simply not enough when the rest of your life is on the line.

Put in other terms: the conversation you have immediately following a self-defense shooting will be the most important conversation in your entire life. More important than that big job interview for your first big career. More important than asking your future father-in-law for your wife's hand in marriage (or your first conversation with your future mother-in-law). When you had these conversations, you no doubt took time to calm down, prepare yourself, seek advice from others on what to say, and to practice your approach. This should be the same. That's not to say you should lie - or ever accept legal advice that you lie or give a false statement. That will only cause you pain in the long run, as there's nothing that detectives hate more than a liar, and even if you are found to have acted in self-defense, you could still be looking at jail time for a false statement. But you should absolutely step back, calm down, seek advice, get your story straight, and have an attorney present before and during questioning. Again, this is the most important conversation of your life - and you have one, and perhaps only one, shot at it.

Again, I don't know all the facts in this case, but I imagine that taking these precautions could have saved this person a great deal of trouble.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Sissy said...

Never talk to the police.

8:08 PM  
Blogger alath said...

I would be interested to know what she said to the police, and if she really said anything that contributed to incriminating herself. My sense is that if the authorities are predisposed to want to charge you, they're going to charge you no matter what you or your lawyer says. I agree however, that of course you don't want to say anything to push them that direction.

One thing this story really does shed some light on: it is fairly frequent on gun boards that a confrontation will be described in which lethal self-defense could be justified, but, there may also be other means of avoiding or fleeing the situation, or perhaps trying something else before using one's gun. Invariably in discussions of these "marginal" or "borderline" situations, some guy (always a guy) will start spluttering that in any situation where shooting is potentially justifiable, he's going to come out blazing.

This story illustrates that even a totally justifiable self-defense shooting - even one where there ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS AT ALL - can wreak havoc in a person's life and cause all kinds of trouble; emotional, legal, financial, etc.

It illustrates how shooting should really be a last resort. It's not "shoot when shooting is justified." It should be "shoot when and only when you have no other viable options at all."

+1 on good luck Stephanie.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Conservative Scalawag said...

It is sad that the law is not as blind as it should be. For your prefession, even if it is not the most socially expectable of professions, should not matter. If a person is going to do grave harm, you have a right to protect yourself and a right to fair treatment under the law...period.

8:49 AM  
Blogger JAFO said...

Holy crap, I thought the name sounded familiar, and the face sure did, too.

When you mention Moncks Corner, SC, it all clicked- I used to date her.

Glad all turned out for the best. Still a bad situation.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous starrchl said...

When I took my CHL instructors class this summer, the officers in charge made one point over and over. "We allow our troopers 72 hours before signing a sworn statement(regarding a shooting). Your students have the same right." Give the most basic of details and get yourself over to the hospital. Everyone has a God given right to self preservation, even those that are considered unsavory.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Breda said...

Bersa Thunder .380, huh? Got mine right here.

7:38 PM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

What an horrific tale, and how sad that our justice system failed Miss Morosi. The irony is they'd give a proven child-molester more consideration. Bless her. I hope she moves forward and prospers in life.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have a ccl have a lawyer w/ a ccl.
Here is a link to vid of news on wilding event in Portland...


7:57 AM  
Blogger TheBronze said...

Good luck, I hope things work out for her.

The only thing you should do in a similar incident is tell the police that you were in fear of your life and had no choice but to defend yourself. Then tell them them that you need some time to calm down. Contact an attorney immediately. You have to maintain your wits after a traumatic event and realize that ANYTHING you say to the police might be used against you later.

Your very life depends on it.

2:04 PM  
Blogger pinkandgeek said...

wow, I guess your life is all that you can hope to protect, but not necessarily keep it in the state as it was

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story barely kept my attention...much too long. That said...I'm not saying she deserved to be attacked at all, but how do we even know that is what happened? For all we know she could have lured an unsuspecting "john" that would pay up into her bedroom where she executed him. Either way, I don't really care.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous C Wolf Forrest said...

If you don't care, Anonymous, why post at all? Please move on. Given the spin you put on your story, you are probably one of those prosecutors who also cared less.

I would assume the incident was investigated and the facts are more likely to be close to what was stated.

Find something you care about, Anonymous. Pointless attacks are just that - wasted. I guess that's why you so courageously withheld your name

4:30 PM  

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