Ward County jury hears opening statements in Bradley Morales retrial

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – Tuesday jurors heard opening statements from both the state and the defense as well as witness testimony in the case against Bradley Morales in the 2017 stabbing death of Sharmaine Leake.

During opening statements, the state told the jury of six men and six women Tuesday afternoon the story of a relationship gone wrong, one that ended with a knife to a woman’s neck, ultimately killing her.

“The evidence will show you that Sharmaine ran to the back patio of her home and that’s where defendant stabbed her in the carotid artery,” said Roza Larson, Ward County’s State’s Attorney.

Larson said that Morales killed Leake, the mother of his three children, out of anger over infidelity concerns.

“The defendant admits to slapping her the night that he stabbed her. He admits that they were fighting for hours because she would not open her phone,” said Larson.

Morales, who is representing himself, said it was an accident, not murder.

“What the state wants you to do, is to look at that evidence and believe everything that Mr. Morales says, but when he says it’s an accident, don’t believe him anymore,” said Bradley Morales, the defendant.

The state’s first witness, a Minot Police Officer, who was called to the crime scene back in 2017, said that Morales openly admitted to stabbing Leake.

“He told me to hurry up and he indicated to me that she was injured in one place. ‘I did it! I did it! I stabbed her in the neck,’” said Officer Joshua Noyes, one of the first responding Minot Police Officers to the 2017 crime scene.

The jury will hear more from the state’s case Wednesday morning, including testimony from Leake’s mother about the manner of the relationship between Leake and Morales.

The trial is scheduled to run through May 20 but could wrap up sooner.

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