Ill juror excused as deliberations in Arochi kidnapping trial continues

Arochi kidnapping case goes to the jury

MCKINNEY, Texas — A juror was dismissed after six hours of deliberation following the closing arguments in the Christina Morris kidnapping trial.

The state and defense didn't object to excusing the juror after she became ill Tuesday night. She was replaced by a backup juror. 

The state started its closing arguments on Tuesday the same way it opened its case.

"Where is Christina Morris?" asked Zeke Fortenberry.

Fortenberry would go on to say there's no answer to that question.

However, he said there's an answer as to "where was Christina Morris?" The state answered that Morris was in Arochi's trunk.

On Tuesday, both sides were given 45 minutes for closing arguments. For both sides, it was their best and final punch before the jury decides Enrique Arochi's fate.

Arochi faces an aggravated kidnapping charge, accused in the disappearance of Morris. The pair were both last seen in the parking garage together on August 30 of 2014.

"It took the whole [police] department; no stone was unturned," said Lisa King, with the state.

More than half of the Plano Police Department force had some involvement in the case.

Keith Gore, who represents Arochi, said the police department had solely focused its attention on his client. The defense said the department didn't fully investigate Hunter Foster, Morris' ex-boyfriend.

"They refuse to see the possibility that it's something else," Gore said.

The state told jurors to focus its attention on three pieces of evidence: the surveillance video, the cellphone pings and the DNA.

The video Fortenberry referred to was the surveillance video that shows Arochi and Morris walk through the parking garage together. Also, the video showing Arochi cleaning up the back of his vehicle at the gas station of a Kroger.

"We know the video surveillance is reliable," Fortenberry said.

The state and defense went back and forth arguing the DNA evidence. The state says Morris' blood or saliva touched the weatherstripping on Arochi's vehicle. The defense says there's no presence of blood in the trunk of Arochi's vehicle. Gore also says there were no footprints, no rips, and no tears in Arochi's car.

The defense brought in its only witness on Tuesday. That witness was an expert on cellphone data who testified the phone records of Arochi and Morris' phones are not entirely reliable in determining the location of the phone.

Meanwhile, the state established early on that Arochi and Morris' phones had pinged the same tower at the same time. It appears the State concluded with this evidence that Morris was in the car with Arochi for a little while that morning on August 30.

The defense argued that the state went through a couple different theories throughout the course of the trial. Gore says the State had competing theories about whether Morris was willingly in Arochi's car. Gore also said the state provided witnesses who said they believed the alleged act happened while both were still in the parking garage at the Shops At Legacy.

The state published a post-it note available to the public for the first time. Forensic witnesses had testified that the post-it note was found crumpled and in the trash at the Arochi home. The words were scribbled in Spanish, about a black shirt, text messages with a specified date range, and bank bills.

"He made a to-do list of things to get rid of," Fortenberry said.

The courtroom was full for closing arguments. It was mostly filled with friends and family of Morris. News 8 recognized one or two members from the Arochi family.

"There isn't a person in this room that doesn't have a broken heart for the Christina Morris family," said Keith Gore.

Likely, one of the most vivid moments during closing arguments came during the very end of the state's argument. Fortenberry picked up a photo of Morris and showed the jury.

"[Arochi] walked away with scrapes and bruises," he said. "[Morris] was never found again."

The jury deliberated until 10 p.m. Tuesday. The jury will resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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