Contractor Matthew Morris represents himself in court, denied change of venue request

LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Contractor, Matthew Morris, appeared in court Thursday to argue three motions related to dozens of charges filed against him.

Morris asked Livingston Parish Judge Elizabeth Wolfe for a change of venue for his trial. He also asked to be housed in the Livingston Parish Prison and to have his bond reduced. The first two motions were denied. The motion for a bond reduction was rescheduled for November 6.

Morris represented himself at trial, waiving the judge's offer of a public defender.

On the request to change venue, Morris argued that because of media coverage of his case, he could not get a fair trial in Livingston Parish. Morris even brought his wife to the stand as a witness.

"Matt is being targeted. The public is jumping on the bandwagon," she said before the court.

However, Assistant District Attorney Kurt Wall countered, arguing Morris could get a fair trial in Livingston.

"I think there are a lot of people in this parish that don't know anything about this case, and like I stated, Derrick Todd Lee got a trial in Baton Rouge from an impartial jury, and I think we could certainly get one here," Wall said in an interview after court.

The judge sided with the state, denying Morris's motion.

On being housed in the Livingston Parish Prison, Morris told the court moving back to Livingston would allow him to be closer to family and would also allow him a better opportunity to prepare his defense.

He is currently being housed in Jonesboro under the custody of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office. There, he said, he has not had access to the legal documents to prepare his legal defense case. He also described the Jonesboro facility as "dangerous" and told the court he feels Livingston has "the best prison" in the state.

The judge denied that request as well.

The state also filed a motion to have similar crimes allowed as part of his evidence. Morris faces charges in multiple parishes. That motion will now be heard on November 6, along with Morris' request for a bond reduction.

Morris is the owner of Complete Construction Contractors. He was arrested at his own home on February 21.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.