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Confidential informant helped arrange Tampa shooting suspect's surrender

TAMPA — Police say that a confidential informant helped negotiate the arrest of Dontae Morris, the man suspected of killing two Tampa police officers and another Tampa man.

Morris turned himself in to police late on the eve of the funerals of officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, who were shot to death early Tuesday.

Police Chief Jane Castor said she doubted the impending funeral played a role in Morris' decision to turn himself in.

"I doubt that he has any compassion towards the officers, or he'd do anything that would help the community," she said.

He was not belligerent Friday night, but he was not cooperative either, Castor said. He invoked his right to remain silent.

"And we didn't question him further," Castor said.

At a news conference before the funeral at Idlewild Baptist Church, Mayor Pam Iorio thanked the community for its support in the search for Morris.

Castor also provided some insight into why investigators released Cortnee Nicole Brantley after seven hours of questioning on Wednesday:

Police hoped that she would help bring Morris into custody.

"That didn't happen and she was charged last night federally," Castor said.

Officials say she would be charged with witnessing a felony and not reporting it. She may also face other charges, Castor said.

At 9:54 a.m. Morris shuffled in to the Orient Road jail, shackled at the ankles and wrists, clad in an orange jumpsuit. Four guards surrounded him. Public defender Chuck Traina asked Judge Paul Huey if he could speak with Morris and have him sign some documents. For two minutes, Morris signed and spoke with Traina. Then Traina told Huey his office would have a conflict in representing Morris because the office is already representing his girlfriend Cortnee Brantley.

Huey set no bail for Morris.

"Obviously, Mr. Morris will remain incarcerated until he's tried," Huey said.

The guards remained standing around Morris during his brief appearance before Huey.

Traina said Morris asked for an attorney Friday night. But after considering all the representation his girlfriend has received from the Public Defender's Office in the past week, Traina said he wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety in a case involving clients who have different interests.

Huey at first seemed unconvinced, asking Traina why his office was making that determination and not a judge. Traina repeated his concern that there was a conflict and Huey agreed to have Traina find another attorney for Morris.

It took just nine minutes before Morris shuffled out of the courtroom.

Huey addressed Morris from the downtown courthouse via TV link. They put the jail in lockdown before Morris appeared so that other inmates wouldn't have contact with him.

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