Updated 10/05/2011 05:20 PM
High speed chase suspect now charged with murder
New, more serious charges against the man police say stole a woman's purse and led police on a high speed chase that ended with a deadly crash. Our Brian Dwyer tells us that the man originally charged with manslaughter, Francis Morgia, is now facing a second degree murder charge.
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- Police and prosecutors say Francis Morgia, 48, committed murder Monday after robbing a woman's purse at the Kohl's Department Store in Watertown, then taking off in his mother's car, leading police on a high speed chase that police say ended when Morgia hit another car at the corner of Routes 342 and 12 in Pamelia.
A passenger in that silver car, Shirley Hammond, 75, was killed. Three others, including two off-duty police officers, were injured.
Prosecutors say this crime fits right into the law that reads anyone who commits a robbery and in the flight from it, causes the death of someone who didn't commit a crime, second degree murder can be charged.
"We wanted to take our time. We wanted to make sure we had a good solid charge before we lodged it. That is why it took us a day to do that," said Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Kristyna Mills.
Police say that while it's part of the investigation, they're not specifically investigating the actual chase that reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.
"We know that pursuits are dangerous, but I would submit to you that it would be a lot more dangerous to society if we didn't pursue, especially fleeing felons," said New York State Police Captain Mark Lincoln.
According to the police deposition, after his arrest, Morgia admitted in writing to the crimes. It also says he made some admissions to stealing other purses by force, something police say is still under investigation.
"We certainly have other similar crimes that have occurred in the area. I believe the number to be five or six other robberies and purse snatchings that have the same M.O. as the case we're investigating here," Lincoln said.
Police are now hoping to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the robbery, chase or crash or someone who may have been robbed in the area to call them as soon as possible. Anyone with any information are asked to call State Police in Watertown at (315) 782-2112.