Witness Says Morse Told Him "His Emotions Got The Best Of Him" At Triple Killing In Lookout Valley

Friday, September 22, 2017
Michael Shavers
Michael Shavers

A witness told a Criminal Court jury on Friday that Derek Morse told him "his emotions got the best of him" at a triple killing in Lookout Valley.

Michael Shavers also said Morse told him in detail about the slayings of John "Jake" Lang, Jon Morris and Caleb Boozer and the shooting of Matthew Callan at the Rolling Hills Trailer Park on April 9, 2014.

Morse is standing trial on three counts of murder and one of attempted murder in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman. The trial continues on Monday at 1 p.m. as the state closes out its proof.

Still expected to testify for the state is Jacob Allison, who was charged along with Morse and Skyler Allen, who is to be tried later.

Shavers, 24, said his family was originally from Trenton, Ga., but had moved to Lookout Valley after he finished high school. He is a half-brother of Allison.

He said he knew Morse because he had a child by his first cousin, Melissa "Lulu" Taylor. He said his mother, Michelle Shavers, and the mother of Ms. Taylor and her brother, Dalton Taylor, are sisters. Shavers said he had known Morse for 6-7 years.

Shavers said he did not know any of the murder victims, and he said he had nothing to do with the killings. He said he was at the America's Best Value Inn and Suites on Patten Chapel Road that day, relaxing after getting off his moving job.

He said the day of the slayings that he and Morse spent the first part of the day together. They went to the Cummings Highway Walmart and also to East Ridge. He said Morse had a Glock .40 caliber handgun with him.

The witness said Morse dropped him off at the motel later that afternoon. He went to room 202 that was rented in the name of his girlfriend, Ashley Harris. He said Ms. Harris came to the room briefly, but was called back in to work at Hillbilly Willie's barbeque.

That evening he said Morse, Allison and Allen came together to his motel room, then left. He said he "didn't care too much" for Allen.

Later, he said Morse and Allison returned. He said they were acting "real strange." He said, "My little brother kept looking out the window like he was afraid of something. He wouldn't tell me what it was."

However, he said he had heard on the news about the shootings. He said Morse then made the statement about his emotions getting the best of him.

Shavers said he told Morse "that I loved him, but he couldn't stay there. I didn't want them finding them with me." He said Allison left first, then a girl he had gone to school with in Dade County, Terri "Shady" Quarles, picked up Morse. He said she took him to the house of Brittany McCord Quarles on Elder Mountain Road, where he was found by police at 4:30 the next morning.

He said Morse gave him the keys to his black Hyundai Elantra, which was parked at the back of the motel. He said Morse told him he "wouldn't be needing them." Shavers turned them over to police eventually.

Shavers said he was placed in the same cell with Morse when he was arrested Feb. 11, 2015, on charges of attempted murder. Police said Shavers fired a volley of shots at Ms. Harris and her new boyfriend, Joshua Maples, who was a witness earlier in the Morse murder trial. 

Shavers said he "asked him about the murders." He said Morse said "he killed three people." He said Morse told of driving up into a cul de sac and then back down by the Lang RV. He told of seeing the men at the site with weapons that turned out to be pellet guns.

The witness said Morse told him he began firing a .22 rifle across the top of his car, then Allen got out and began shooting. He said Morse said Lang was killed first, though he pleaded that he "didn't have anything to do" with a past feud between Morse and Morris. Then they went after Boozer and then Morris.

He said Morse said he ran out of bullets from the rifle and Allen gave him a .380 handgun to use.

Shavers said Morse related that the trio then went to Allison's grandparents on Back Valley Road in Dade County and put the guns they had used in a safe in the "sewing room" of their double wide trailer. He said they also "shot some hoops and had fun with some rabbits."

Shavers said he saw four guns that were used, including two .22 rifles, a .380 handgun and a .40 caliber handgun behind the home of Dalton Taylor. He said they were wrapped in a towel and placed in some woods.

He said he was with Dalton Taylor and Jacob Allison, and "we each grabbed a gun to wrap it up." He said he "started heaving (throwing up)' when he thought what the guns had been used for.

He said the .380 was later traded at a gun show. He told law enforcement where they could find the other guns in a ditch by I-24 heading toward Chattanooga. The guns were located there.

Shavers said Morse told him the shootings were related to the incident five days earlier when Morris told him to meet him behind the Food Lion on Brown's Ferry Road. He said Morse told him when he was getting out of his car for a drug deal that his foot accidentally hit the brake and lit up the brake lights. He said he could see two men coming up behind him, including one with a tire iron. He began firing at the men, then he chased them in a car.

Shavers also said that Morris had allegedly been driving by the Allison home on Maplewood Lane and threatening them. 

A TBI Lab exert said gunpowder residue was found on both sides of the front of the shirt Morse was wearing on April 9 as well as both sides of the front of his khaki shorts.

Another TBI specialist said bullets found at the murder scene could be traced back to the two .22 rifles and the .40 caliber handgun found by the freeway. He said the guns were covered with mud and dirt, but he was able to clean and test them.














TBI Lab expert holds up Morse's shirt that had gunshot residue on it
TBI Lab expert holds up Morse's shirt that had gunshot residue on it

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