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Tausha Lee MORTON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Convinced her husband to shoot and kill her ex-husband
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 24, 2004
Date of arrest: December 19, 2008
Date of birth: August 30, 1975
Victim profile: Mitchell Wayne Kemp, 40 (her former husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Boone County, Missouri, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on August 16, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tausha Morton receives life in prison without parole

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

August 16, 2010

A Columbia woman charged with murdering her estranged husband was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Tausha Morton will spend the rest of her life behind bars for the 2004 murder of Mitch Kemp.

Tausha Morton stood without any emotion to her sentence of life in prison without parole. 

Two years ago, Tausha led investigators to the remains of her estranged husband Mitch Kemp that were buried on a Boone County farm. Another ex-husband of Tausha Morton, Greg Morton, admitted to shooting and killing Mitch Kemp six years ago because Tausha lied and manipulated him into committing murder. 

The victim’s daughter, Tara Kemp, testified during Tausha’s sentencing hearing.

“I wish he was there to see me receive my college diploma and my brother’s high school diploma," Tara Kemp said. "I wish I could call him and ask him about advice about things going on in my life. I wish I could call him and ask him."

Evidence showed Tausha Morton kicked and spit on Mitch Kemp just before he died. Members of the Kemp family said Tausha should never be allowed to walk the streets again.

“I tried in my heart to gain closure and grant forgiveness," Victim's brother Tracy Kemp said. "I have accepted that forgiveness my not be possible. Closure will only be accepted when I know that this monster is put away forever and she can never, ever hurt another person or family.”

Prosecutor Richard Hicks and Public Defender Paul Hood declined to comment on Tausha Morton’s sentencing.

Tausha Morton was sentenced to spend the rest of her life behind bars within the Missouri Department of Corrections. She plans to appeal that sentence within the next 10 days.

 
 

Jury finds Tausha Fields guilty of murder

By Brennan David - ColumbiaTribune.com

June 29, 2010

Tausha Fields sat motionless when a Boone County jury found her guilty yesterday of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of her former husband Mitchell Kemp.

Kemp was killed in August 2004, and Fields led investigators to his remains in 2008 on a south Boone County farm where she and co-defendant Greg Morton once lived. Fields’ trial in Boone County Circuit Court lasted more than a week and was sent to the jury around 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

“I am very pleased with the verdict,” First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Hicks said. “I am particularly happy for the family. They have been through a lot. Tausha Morton may not look like it, but she is a vicious person.”

Fields was charged by the state as Tausha Morton, but the defense has referred to her as Tausha Fields, her maiden name, throughout the trial.

Public defender Paul Hood declined to comment, saying only that Fields will appeal the verdict, which came after seven hours of deliberation.

A key witness was Morton, 42, another of Fields’ ex-husbands. He admitted to shooting Kemp but testified that Fields, 34, lured Kemp to Morton’s farm so Morton could kill him.

“It’s hard to say the number of lives this has affected,” said Tracy Kemp, brother of the victim. “We have a very strong family.”

Morton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last year and has agreed to a 19-year prison sentence as part of his plea agreement. During testimony, Morton apologized to the Kemp family and said it was not until after Fields left him that he realized he had killed an innocent man.

“With all the things we have dealt with, and knowing what Tausha was capable of, we could tell it was sincere,” Tracy Kemp said of Morton’s apology. “For someone that killed my brother, I have to say that I actually feel sorry for him.”

For the first time since Morton’s arrest nearly two years ago, his sister Chari Batye said she finally learned through testimony that her half-brother is a murderer. During visits and calls to the jail, the Hartsburg resident said she was never allowed to discuss the case with Morton and didn’t know what to expect.

“It’s like a nightmare,” she said. “Things like this don’t happen in your family.”

Other relatives took Morton’s 16-year-old daughter on vacation to Florida last week during the trial. Morton’s father, Warren Morton, 82, also came to court to hear testimony because, like Batye, he knew little of the case.

“As soon as he met her, things went downhill,” Batye said of Morton’s relationship with Fields. “I still can’t believe he did it.”

Kemp’s family members were emotional over the verdict. Batye shared a hug with Carolyn Kemp, the victim’s mother. “We are relieved and happy for Mitch’s family,” Batye said. “We wanted to tell them that we were sorry.”

Hood had called Morton’s plea agreement into question, and it was a focus of his closing argument yesterday. Hicks said there was nothing unusual about the state’s agreement with Morton and that the decision was strategic.

“I want someone to own up to what they have done,” he said. “He had reliable information that was corroborated.”

After reviewing 10 hours of Boone County sheriff’s investigators’ questioning of Fields, Hicks said he did not believe the defendant was capable of telling the truth.

“Lying is like breathing to her,” Hicks said of Fields. “How do you cut a deal with someone like that?”

He said things could have turned out differently for Fields if she had told the truth from the beginning and offered to locate Kemp’s body during the beginning of the interview process.

Fields could face a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

 
 

Tausha Morton guilty of first degree murder

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

June 29, 2010

A Boone County jury has found Tausha Morton guilty of first degree murder in the death of Mitchell Kemp. 

Update: Tuesday, June 29 at 6:40 p.m.

The jury has requested dinner as they continue to deliberate.

The jury has been in deliberation for nearly six hours.

Update: Tuesday, June 29 at 3:50 p.m.

Jurors are deliberating at Tausha Morton’s murder trial.

Jurors have three options for Tausha Morton as they deliberate at this hour.

They can render a verdict of not guilty, guilty of first degree murder or guilty of second degree murder.

Update Tuesday, June 29 at 11:55 a.m.

Closing arguments are done in the murder trial of Tausha Morton.

The prosecution said that the motive behind Mitch Kemp’s murder was that Tausha Morton wanted sole custody of her daughter.

The defense said that Greg Morton wanted to dominate Tausha Morton’s life and killed Mitch Kemp in a fit of jealousy.

The jury is deliberating. They have three options, not guilty, guilty of first degree murder or guilty of second degree murder.

Update Tuesday, June 29 at 9:33 a.m.

Closing arguments are underway in the murder trial of Tausha Morton.

Public defenders say they expect a verdict today.

Watch KRCG News for the latest in this case.

Update: Monday, June 28 at 5:20 p.m.

The defense has rested their case in the murder trial of Tausha Morton.

Closing arguments will be Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Update: Monday, June 28 at 5:17 p.m.

The prosecution rests it case in the trial of a Columbia woman charged with murdering her ex-husband.

Tasha Morton is charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Mitch Kemp, six years ago.

Police don't think she fired the weapon but lured Kemp to a Boone County farm, where Greg Morton  shot Kemp.

Morton had already pleaded guilty to the crime.

The trial is expected to last through Wednesday.  

Update: Monday, June 28 at 12:01 p.m.

The trial of a Columbia woman charged with murdering one of her husbands is continues for the  fifth day  in Boone County.

The prosecution continues to call witnesses in the case, and the jury is watching more video of interviews Tausha Morton made three years ago with authorities in Alabama.

The trial is expected to last through Wednesday.

 
 

Day 4: Police videos show suspect being questioned

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

June 24, 2010

BOONE COUNTY, MO. -- Jurors watched more than eight hours of video testimony during the murder trial of a Columbia woman accused of plotting to kill her estranged husband six years ago.

Authorities said Tausha Morton is responsible for the 2004 shooting death of her former husband Mitch Kemp.

Prosecutors played videos of Tausha’s interviews with several Boone County Sheriff investigators.

Police took the videos in 2007 while Tausha was living in Alabama.

At first, the videos show that Tausha denied her role in the murder.

Eventually, Tausha used a map to show the exact location of Mitch Kemp’s unmarked grave.

“It’s right here," Tausha Morton said to investigators pointing to a location on a map. "I’m telling you, it’s right here." 

Eventually, Tausha Morton led deputies to Mitch Kemp’s unmarked grave on some property south of Columbia.

The trial will resume Monday morning and is expected to last until Wednesday.

If convicted of first degree murder, Tausha Morton could be sentenced to life in prison.

 
 

Day 3: Ex-boyfriends testify against murder suspect

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

June 24, 2010

BOONE COUNTY, MO. -- The trial of a Columbia woman accused of plotting to kill her estranged husband 6 years ago continues at the Boone County Courthouse.

It is day three of testimony in the murder trial of Tausha Morton.

Morton faces a charge of first degree murder for the 2004 shooting death of Mitch Kemp.

Six years ago, Tausha Morton was married to two men at the same time. 

Prosecutors said Tausha convinced her husband Greg Morton to shoot and kill her estranged husband Mitch Kemp after accusing Kemp of raping her and her daughter. After the murder, Tausha and Greg divorced. That’s when Keith Jones became Tausha’s new boyfriend and learned about Tausha’s involvement with the murder of Mitch Kemp.

“She said that she met him, I think some place where he was at, a bar or wherever he was," Jones said. "She got him to come back to the farm.  When he got out of the vehicle, Mr. Morton was there and shot him.”

Prosecutors called another boyfriend of Tausha Morton’s to the witness stand. Dwayne Barrentine was Tausha’s boyfriend after Keith Jones. Jones told Barrentine about Tausha’s dark secret.

“I said, what else do you know?" Barrentine said. "He said I know that she was involved with in the murder of one of her ex’s. That was the first time I heard anything like that.  I had been told so many lies that I didn’t necessarily know what to believe.”

Earlier in the trial, Tausha’s husband at the time of the murder, Greg Morton, admitted he shot and killed Mitch Kemp. Morton testified that he believes he killed an innocent man because of Tausha Morton’s lies.

If convicted of first degree murder, Tausha Morton could get life in prison. The trial could last up to seven days.

Greg Morton pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against his former wife. He is scheduled for sentencing on Monday.

Prosecutors will continue to call their witnesses tomorrow.

 
 

Day 2: Trial puts husband against wife

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

June 24, 2010

BOONE COUNTY, MO. -- It was day two of testimony in the murder trial of a Columbia woman accused of plotting to kill her estranged husband six years ago.

Tausha Morton faces a charge of first degree murder for the shooting death of Mitch Kemp.

The trial picked up Wednesday where it left off Tuesday with the trigger man on the stand.

Six years ago, Tausha Morton was married to two men at the same time.

Prosecutors said Tausha convinced her husband Greg Morton to shoot and kill her estranged husband Mitch Kemp on Aug. 24, 2004.

During a re-enactment, confessed killer Greg Morton showed jurors how he shot Mitch Kemp sux times with a handgun. Greg told the jury that the murder made him suicidal, but his daughter kept him alive.

“I re-established contact with my daughter," Greg Morton said. "I called her. She forgave me.”

Greg said he shot Mitch because Tausha told him that Mitch had raped her. Public defender Paul Hood told the jury that Greg shot Mitch because Greg was consumed with being the only man in Tausha’s life.

“I didn’t want to take over Mitchell Kemp’s life," Greg Morton said. "I didn’t want to replace him. I didn’t want to control Tausha. I didn’t want to dominate her. I did kill Mitchell Kemp and his daughter was listed as Lexy Morton.”

Greg Morton admitted that he renamed Mitch Kemp’s daughter Lexy Kemp by writing her name as Lexy Morton on some photographs. Greg said it was Tausha’s idea to give her daughter Greg’s last name.

Jurors found out how Greg Morton made a deal with prosecutors. Greg pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against his former wife. If convicted of first degree murder, Tausha Morton could get life in prison.

Prosecutors are expected to continue their case Thursday.

Greg Morton has finished testifying.

Greg Morton is scheduled for sentencing on Monday.

 
 

Day 1: Confessed killer testifies against ex-wife in trial

By Mark Slavit - Connectmidmissouri.com

June 22, 2010

BOONE COUNTY, MO. -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their opening arguments Monday in the first degree murder trial of a Columbia woman accused of murdering her ex-husband six years ago.

Authorities said Tausha Morton was the mastermind behind the shooting death of Mitchell Kemp.

Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Hayes told jurors that Tausha Morton never pulled the trigger, but convinced her husband Greg Morton to shoot and kill her ex-husband Mitch Kemp on August 24, 2004.

“Tausha lured Mitch Kemp up to their residence where she was living with Greg Morton," Hayes said. "When they arrived Greg shot Mitch multiple times. They took his body and they put him in a hole.”

Prosecutors are calling witnesses and showing jurors hours of video testimony by Tausha Morton. 

Authorities want to prove Tausha was a lying when she said she knew nothing about the murder. 

Mitch Kemp’s murder was a mystery for four years until August 2008. Tausha led authorities to the shallow grave of her ex-husband in a field just south of Columbia on some property that Mitch Kemp once owned. 

Defense attorneys said Tausha’s husband at the time of the murder, Greg Morton, plotted the death of Mitch Kemp because he wanted Mitch out of Tausha’s life.

“I’m not trying to convince you that Tausha is a perfect person, not by any means," Public Defender Paul Hood said. "He wanted to dominate her and he wanted to control her. He wanted to take over the spot that Mitch had in her life.”

The trigger man, Greg Morton, made a deal with prosecutors. Greg pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony. Greg testified that he shot and killed Mitch Kemp after Tausha tricked him into thinking that Kemp raped her.

“The gun was in my hand," Morton told jurors. "I raised it and pointed it at him. I kind of paused. I was kind of struggling there with it a little bit. Then, she started yelling for me to shoot him.”

Tausha Morton could get life in prison, if the jury convicts her of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said there is a long list of people connected to this complicated murder case. The trial could last up to seven days.

Prosecutors are expected to continue their case Wednesday.

Greg Morton is scheduled for sentencing on June 28. 

Tausha Morton was legally married to both Greg Morton and Mitch Kemp at the time of Kemp's murder.

 
 

Estranged wife arrested for a 2004 murder

Connectmidmissouri.com

December 22, 2008

DICKINSON, TEXAS -- Four years after a Columbia man went missing, authorities have solved his murder. 

Mitchell Wayne Kemp had not been seen since the summer of 2004.

Dec. 19, Kemp's estranged wife, Tausha Fields, 33, was charged with first-degree murder in connection with his 2004 death.

Fields of Dickinson, Texas was arrested at a Dickinson residence and taken into custody by Galveston County Texas authorities.

Last August Field's other ex-husband, 40-year-old Gregory Morton was arrested in St. Louis and charged with first-degree murder.

Morton is currently being held in the Boone County jail at $1 million cash only bond.

The investigation by the Boone County Sheriff's Department began after a family member found information that Kemp was murdered.

The investigation led to the discovery of Kemp's skeletal remains in a Clandestine grave on property once owned by Morton and Fields on Deer Park Road.

An autopsy revealed Kemp had been shot numerous times.

 
 

Tausha Fields: Did she lure her ex to his death?

Produced by Jay Young and Marc Goldbaum

CBSNews.com

July 9, 2011

Dewayne Barrentine is a single dad working full time while raising his 8-year-old son just outside the small town of Marianna, Fla.

In June 2007, Barrentine was picking up his son at his daycare center when a woman passed him a note. "She said, 'It's a phone number,' I said, 'To who?' She said 'Miss Tausha,'" Barrentine recalls.

"Miss Tausha" was 31-year-old Tausha Fields - a single mother who had recently moved to town with her 4-year-old daughter, Lexie, and was working at the daycare center.

"She could be very sexy," Barrentine tells "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Erin Moriarty.

"And if she wanted a man, she could really pour it on," notes Moriarty.

"Oh, absolutely. Absolutely," he says.

There was another big reason Barrentine fell for Tausha.

"She was really there for my son...," he explains. "I had full custody of him. He would lay in the bed next to me ... and I would hear him say his prayers and he would pray for a mama."

Barrentine soon felt the same way about Tausha's daughter, Lexie. "We weren't dating even a month and she said, 'Will you be my daddy?' And I said, 'Baby, I'll be whatever you want me to be...'"

Lexie was from a previous marriage that Tausha wasn't keen on talking about. "...the little girl from that point on called me dad," Barrentine says. "And I loved her."

It wasn't long before they were all living together.

"She makes you feel like she loves you," he continues, "from love letters to little things that she did."

Barrentine says Tausha seemed too good to be true. "She even told me in the beginning that she had a Bachelor's degree in criminal justice."

But the more time they spent together, the more he began to question Tausha.

Barrentine says, "The stories just didn't add up," starting with strange stories she told of her past.

"She was supposed to receive an inheritance from her granddad who was a federal judge who was blinded by a battery blowing up in his face," he tells Moriarty. "If he was a federal judge, surely his name would be on docs under Google somewhere, but I never found anything."

Moriarty notes, "She's a storyteller." "Oh yeah," Barrentine says. "She can come up with a story in a blink of an eye."

So Barrentine kept on digging. "I wanted to know who I had living in my house with me and my son," he says.

As Barrentine combed through computer records, he came across a marriage license.

"...she had married a man named Mitchell Wayne Kemp," he says. "I called her and she told me that yes, she had been married to Mitchell Wayne Kemp, and, in fact, she had been married five times."

"She was 30 years of age and she had been married five times before?" Moriarty asks.

"That's what she said," Barrentine says. "I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't."

It turns out Mitch Kemp was an ex-husband and the father of Tausha's daughter, Lexie.

"It was a marriage that probably shouldn't have ever happened," Tausha tells Moriarty. "We were more friends. I mean I loved Mitch, but I wasn't in love with him."

For Dewayne Barrentine, it was one surprise after another.

"I just never lost my drive to continue to keep figuring out stories that she would tell me," he says.

His digging eventually led him to a face-to-face meeting with Keith Jones, an old boyfriend of Tausha's.

"I was in love with her and anything else didn't matter," Jones says, telling Moriarty that he also heard Tausha tell many of the same stories.

"You couldn't verify anything that she said," he says. "You know, and I mean there were a lot of stories."

There was one outrageous story that Barrentine heard for the first time from Jones.

"He told me that she was involved in the murder of one of her exes," says Barrentine.

Jones tells Moriarty, "She had a few drinks in her. ...she said this guy had raped her and her daughter. And she apparently ... went to where he was and lured him back to her house ... and he walked in the front door. And that's when Greg shot him in the chest."

"Greg" is Greg Morton, another of Tausha's ex-husbands whom she married after Mitch Kemp.

Jones says the story, "just seemed so far-fetched."

"Did you think about going to the police or the authorities after she told you that story?" asks Moriarty.

"No, because I didn't believe it," Jones replies. "There was no sense going to the police when I didn't believe it myself."

"With the kinds of stories that Tausha tells, isn't it really hard to know what the truth is?" Moriarty asks Barrentine.

"It really is. Absolutely," he replies.

So Barrentine left it at that until a few months later, when he discovered Tausha was cheating on him and threw her out of the house.

Heartbroken and humiliated, he started digging into Tausha's past again - even going on her personal Myspace page.

"When I logged on, there were like these three or four messages there: 'Are you Tausha Lee Fields?'" Barrentine says.

It was there he discovered someone was looking for Tausha's ex-husband, Mitch Kemp, who had been missing for four years.

"I read one of the messages that said, 'We are very concerned." '...How is Mitch? We haven't heard from him in over four years.'"

The messages were posted by Mitch's relatives, who were desperate to find him.

"I just thought every day he's gonna walk through that door. I'm gonna see him," Mitch's mother, Carole Kemp, tells Moriarty. "But he never did."

That got Barrentine thinking. "We've got the child, Lexie Kemp. We've got a marriage license, Mitchell Wayne Kemp. And now the death of one of her ex's. There's Kemp, Kemp, Kemp, Kemp, Kemp."

Could the missing Mitch Kemp be the ex-husband in Tausha's far-fetched story of murder?

"Here is everything," Ballentine says. "It just fell in on top of me." So he reported his bizarre story to the Marianna, Fla. police chief.

"And sure enough, I got a phone call from him that night saying. 'Let's keep this quiet. I do believe we got a homicide on our hands,'" he says.

"What were you thinking at his point?" Moriarty asks Barrentine.

"Holy s--t! Here we go!" he replies. "Never did I ever think I'd be involved in something like this.

In the six years he had been police chief in Marianna, Fla., Lou Roberts had never heard a story quite like Dewayne Barrentine's. Barrentine believed that his former girlfriend, Tausha Fields, might somehow be involved in the disappearance of her ex-husband, Mitch Kemp.

"Dewayne was very good on dates and times," Chief Roberts says. "I told Dewayne he probably should have been an investigator."

Still, Chief Roberts needed to do some investigating of his own. That meant going to the story's source, Keith Jones.

"We interviewed Keith Jones. It was the same story we were hearing from Dewayne," Roberts tells Erin Moriarty. "I just had a gut feeling that something had happened to this individual, cause, I mean, there had been no activity about his past."

Mitch's brother, Tracy Kemp, had the same feeling - 900 miles away in Boone County, Mo., where Mitch and Tausha Fields had lived.

"I just had a gut feeling that something bad had happened and she had something to do with it," he tells Moriarty.

Carole Kemp had always believed that Tausha was somehow behind her son's disappearance.

"We all believed it,'" she says. Asked why, she replies, "Just the type of person she turned out to be, after we got to know her."

The family felt very differently about Tausha when Mitch Kemp first brought her home in 2001.

"She was a really sweet girl," says Carole Kemp.

Asked what the relationship was like at first, Mitch's sister, Michelle Kemp, replies, "Very good. I mean we had a great time together."

Tausha was 26; Mitch, almost 11 years older.

"Did you love Mitch?" Moriarty asks Tausha. "Yes," she replies. "I could just be me with Mitch."

But the Kemps say it didn't take long for Tausha to change Mitch.

"He wasn't as playful as he used to be," says Michelle.

"There were just things that Mitch and I would do together that would start to take a back seat to things that she wanted to do," Tracy Kemp adds. "She was very manipulative in that whatever she wants she got."

In 2002, their daughter, Lexie, was born and the couple soon married. But the good times didn't last long.

"It was utter chaos, no bills could get paid," says Tausha.

"It was like a roller coaster ride, you know," Tracy says. "They were good, and then they were bad. Then they were good, then they were bad."

"We lived in the same house," Tausha says, "but there was nothing there."

After just eight months of marriage, it was over. Tausha moved out, taking Lexie with her.

But Tausha wasn't single for long. She was dating Greg Morton and after six months, they were married in Missouri. Tausha, Lexie, and Morton became a family. That didn't sit well with Mitch Kemp.

"I remember him telling us that, 'I wanna get Lexie back,'" says Tracy.

That was in August of 2004 and the last time Tracy says that he spoke to his brother. Less than two weeks later, Mitch Kemp disappeared.

"Did you try to get a hold of Tausha to see where Mitch was?" Moriarty asks the Kemp family.

"She never had anything in her name," Michelle says. "No utilities, no bills, nothing."

So the Kemps turned to the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff's Department, but the search for Mitch went nowhere. He had seemingly vanished without a trace.

"There has to be some kind of reason - information that a person could be the victim of foul play. And we didn't have any of that information at that time," says Det. Dave Wilson.

Three and a half years later, in 2008, the Missouri detective got a hot lead. That's when Florida police told Wilson the story coming from Keith Jones and Dewayne Barrentine - that Tausha had talked about how she had "lured" Mitch Kemp to the farm so Greg Morton could shoot him.

"I always felt there was some truth to what he was saying," Wilson says of Barrentine's credibility. "Keith Jones, same thing."

"At that point," Det. Wilson continues, "we believed that we may possibly have a homicide."

But there was no proof, no body and no witnesses. So that in May of that year, Det. Wilson and his partner traveled south to interview Tausha Fields herself.

Tausha Fields: I have no problem talking to you guys cause I have nothing to hide.

Detective: I appreciate that.

Detective: Mitch Kemp hasn't been seen since August of '04.

Tausha Fields: It doesn't surprise me. It doesn't surprise me at all.

At first, detectives didn't let on that they had talked to Keith Jones or Dewayne Barrentine. Tausha insisted she knew nothing of Mitch's whereabouts.

Tausha Fields: If I knew, as well as this is wood (taps table), what happened to Mitch, I would tell you.

And when asked about Greg Morton, Tausha had little to say except that the two had long since divorced and seldom talked.

Detective: When did you leave him? Greg?

Tausha Fields: Oh that's been a couple of years ago.

Detective: What type of person is Greg?

Tausha Fields: Um, I have nothing bad to say about him.

But the more detectives questioned Tausha about her ex-husband, the more her description of him changed. Suddenly Greg Morton was a man to be feared.

Tausha Fields: His mind is not right. He lives in a... He's a very angry person, know what I'm sayin'?

Detective: So if I thought he had done something to Mitch, it wouldn't surprise you? ...Do you think he's capable of hurting someone like that?

Tausha Fields: I mean, he hurt me!

Then finally, Tausha could hold her secret no longer.

Detective: Just let it out...

Tausha Fields: Greg killed Mitch. He told me.

She said there had been a fight; Greg Morton had pulled out a gun. But is this the truth or just another of Tausha's tall tales?

Bit by bit over the course of 48 hours, Tausha Fields revealed to detectives how her ex-husband, Greg Morton, told her that in August 2004, he shot dead another ex-husband, Mitch Kemp.

Tausha says there had been bad blood between the two men ever since Morton suspected she was cheating on him with her ex-husband, Mitch Kemp. "I was married to Greg," she tells Moriarty, teary-eyed, "and I was - still seeing Mitch."

Tausha says Morton was a ticking time bomb. "I lived with Greg. I knew what Greg was capable of."

Tausha Fields: Greg has no problem with hurtin' anybody. None.

Tausha said Morton told her where he shot Mitch Kemp and where he then disposed of his body - Morton's 40-acre farm that he sold six months after Tausha says he killed Mitch.

But Tausha insisted she wasn't at the farm - she was picking up her daughter, Lexie, at daycare.

It was something police needed Tausha to repeat: "Look at me in the eyes, look and tell me..."

Tausha Fields: I wasn't there! I didn't have anything to do with it!

Detective: OK, that's all we need to know.

But was Tausha telling detectives everything? They had their doubts. And so did prosecutors Richard Hicks and Andrea Hayes.

Richard Hicks says there was a glaring omission in Tausha's story. Remember what ex-boyfriend Keith Jones told police: "She went to where he was and lured him back to her house... and that's when Greg shot him in the chest."

But before prosecutors could prove Tausha "lured" Mitch Kemp to his death, they first needed to prove that he was really dead and that there was a murder. "We had to find a body," says Hicks.

Tausha cooperated with police and agreed to travel from Florida to Missouri to help them search the farm for Mitch Kemp's body. But once there, she seemed lost.

"She seems really confused," Andrea Hayes says watching police video of the search. "And of course, the house has changed. There was some structures that were torn down, a new home was built, a new family living there."

At one point on the police video, Tausha zeroed in on an area near where the old farm house used to be. "...he did some dirt work right there," she points out to police. But when detectives returned with equipment, they found nothing.

"That's when we're like, 'OK, she's probably lying to us,'" Hicks says. "Because, I think we believe she knew exactly where the body was buried."

Five weeks later, they questioned Tausha again. This time, they turned up the heat.

Detective: We dug up an area probably a hundred yards long!

Detective: I'm one of those who don't believe you're telling us all you know.

It was then that Tausha remembered an old pit Greg Morton had dug on the farm that she says had been freshly covered soon after Morton told her about the murder.

Tausha Fields: It's right here David [pointing at a map]. I'm telling you it's right here.

After a half hour of digging, detectives found what they were looking for.

"How did you find out that they did find Mitch's body?" Moriarty asks Tausha.

"I was right there," she cries.

"How did you react?"

"I got sick."

An autopsy revealed Mitch Kemp had been shot six times in the chest.

"I truly believe that, you know, he had no idea that anything like that was going to happen," Tracy Kemp says. "I think he was absolutely blindsided. Blindsided and ambushed."

Three weeks after finding Mitch Kemp's body on Greg Morton's old property, authorities arrested Morton and charged him with first-degree murder. Prosecutor Hicks hoped Morton would turn on Tausha, the person they were now convinced was behind it all.

"Let him sit in jail for a few months. And then, see if he's ready to talk," says Hicks.

But Greg Morton didn't talk. So three-and-a half months later - fearing she might run - authorities arrested Tausha without a shred of hard evidence. She was charged with first-degree murder.

Tausha Fields: They just jerked me off a motorcycle and told me I was under arrest!

Det. Dave Wilson: Yeah.

Tausha Fields: I didn't hurt nobody! I think I'm gonna throw up....

It was then that Tausha laid out yet another version of what happened the day Mitch Kemp died. In this one, she admits she did bring Mitch to the farm, but she said she didn't "lure" him there to have him killed.

"Lexie had got school pictures from the daycare... and um, Mitch and I went out there to get that and probably... to spend some time together," she tells Moriarty.

"And, I walked up on the porch ... And I turned around - Greg had come around the corner of the house and had his gun drawn. Mitch had his hands up and he started walking backwards. All Mitch said was, 'It's not what you think.'"

"What happened?" asks Moriarty.

"He shot him," Tausha replies. "I saw him take his last breath, and there wasn't anything I could do for him."

Tausha told detectives Greg Morton acted out of jealous rage.

Tausha Fields: I kept saying: You just killed him! You just killed him!

Tausha Fields: I said I have to call for help for him. And Greg slammed me up against the wall and told me I'd been f-----g around on him."

"Why not try calling 911, maybe saving his life?" asks Moriarty.

"Probably would have been the thing to do," Tausha replies, "but when you watch somebody be gunned down, maybe your thoughts aren't rational."

Yet, after the shooting, Tausha stayed with Greg Morton for a year-and-a-half before divorcing him.

Why she would stay with a man who killed the father of her child? "I don't know. Fear," she says.

Tausha says it was that fear that caused her to lie repeatedly to detectives throughout her interrogations.

"He committed murder. He took another person's life," she says of Morton. "Why would I be any different?"

Three weeks after Tausha Fields' arrest, Greg Morton broke his silence to tell his version of what happened that day.

"He said 'Mr. Hicks, I shot that man,'" says Prosecutor Hicks.

But, Morton claims it was all Tausha's idea and that she manipulated him into murdering Mitch Kemp.

"Greg Morton would never have shot Mitch Kemp if it weren't for Tausha," Hicks tells Moriarty.

Tausha insists she is innocent.

"If I was so concerned that I was in trouble...why would I have solved it?" she asks. "They couldn't find Mitch's body. I took 'em to it."

"I think she is a master manipulator and I think she knew exactly what buttons to push to get Greg to do this," says Hicks.

"She's got that kind of power, that ability, to manipulate someone to shoot a man five times?" asks Moriarty. Hicks replies, "It's what I believe."

But the question is, will a jury?

In June 2010, almost six years after Mitch Kemp was murdered, the trial of his ex-wife, Tausha Fields, is about to begin in Boone County, Mo.

"What do you want people to know?" Erin Moriarty asks Tausha. "That I'm not the mastermind of a crime," she replies. "I didn't want Mitch dead. I had no reason to want him dead."

Prosecutors Richard Hicks and Andrea Hayes believe that Tausha Fields - as young and sweet as she may appear - methodically and diabolically manipulated Greg Morton to kill Mitch Kemp.

"She could seem to get anyone to do whatever she wanted them to," says Andrea Hayes.

The main evidence: The confession of the murderer himself. In return for a reduced sentence to second-degree murder, Morton agrees to testify against his former wife.

Asked why Morton is blaming her, Tausha replies, "He faced life in prison without parole."

"He knew he was in a very bad spot. He was going to be convicted," says Paul Hood, a public defender representing Tausha Fields. "Greg uses his own gun. Greg buries Mitchell Kemp in a hole that Greg dug. ...Everything points at Greg Morton."

Hood will argue Greg Morton's plea deal has motivated him to concoct his own fanciful story... that Tausha made him do it.

"He really has to transform Tausha Fields into this woman that somehow has magical powers, somehow some sort of mystical spell over him that controls him to the point that he'll commit murder for her," Hood explains.

"Is there any physical evidence that points to Tausha Fields as having any involvement in this murder?" asks Moriarty. "Not at all," says Hood.

Hood has a simple explanation for why Greg Norton shot Mitch Kemp. "I believe Greg suspected that Tausha was cheating on him," he says. "And to control her, and in a fit of rage, he murdered Mitchell Kemp."

But prosecutors say that Tausha was the mastermind and persuaded Greg Morton to kill Mitch Kemp by fabricating a story that Mitch had just raped her.

"Tausha comes home... She's upset..." Prosecutor Hayes says. "And she gets him worked up and says, 'He's raped me,' you know, 'we've got to take care of it now. We've got to do something.'"

"It was at that point that he says, 'Fine. If that man ever comes out to the property, I'll kill him,'" Prosecutor Hicks adds. "I think Tausha knew these were the correct buttons to push. That's why she's such a good manipulator."

Asked if she told Morton that Mitch Kemp had raped her, Tausha tells Moriarty, "No!"

According to Paul Hood it's all part of Morton's "concocted" story.

"How does this woman convince you to shoot someone?" he asks. "And he's got to come up with something awful. Well it must be that the guy is a rapist."

As Greg Morton prepares to testify, the Kemp family sees Mitch's killer for the first time.

"The first time I saw Greg Morton in court, I just had this huge sense of anger and hate," says Tracy Kemp, Mitch's brother.

And then they had to listen as Morton tells the jury just how Tausha convinced him to kill Mitch.

Greg Morton: And she's crying. She's hysterical ... She said Mitch raped her.

Prosecutor Hicks: What are you feeling, Greg, at this point?

Greg Morton: I wanted retribution.

The next morning, Morton says, Tausha took charge and handed him a gun.

Greg Morton: She goes, "I'm going to go get Mitch, and when I get back, you shoot him."

Prosecutor Hicks: What were you going to do, Greg?

Greg Morton: I was going to do what she asked me to do.

When Tausha brought Mitch back to the farm, Morton says he approached Mitch with the gun in his hand.

Greg Morton: I raised it, pointed it at him. ...And then she started yelling for me to shoot him.

Prosecutor Hicks: So did you?

Greg Morton: I did.

Greg Morton: Then she said, "You got to get something to move him. Get something to move him with." She said, "Come on. You should have had this ready."

Prosecutor Hicks: And you saw that he was still struggling?

Greg Morton: He was.

Prosecutor Hicks: So what did you do?

Greg Morton: I shot him again.

Prosecutor Hicks: Was he struggling any more?

Greg Morton: It was over.

Morton says he used farm equipment to pick up Mitch's body and then the two buried him in a pit.

Greg Morton: When we were rolling the dirt in on Mitch ... she said, "Mitch Kemp is a piece of s--t and nobody is going to look for him for a long time."

Tausha says she sat listening to her accuser in disbelief.

"Everything was my fault," she says of Morton's testimony. "I was so powerful that I got inside his mind and convinced him that this is what you will do."

Paul Hood hopes to challenge Greg Morton's credibility by revealing a darker side of his personality. He calls Jamie Bowden to the stand.

Bowden was a neighbor of Tausha and Greg Morton in the summer of 2005, one year after the murder.

Asked how she would describe Morton, Bowden tells Moriarty, "Big, bad. Very short tempered ... If he tells you to do something, you better do it quick."

That, Bowden says, was a rule Tausha lived by.

"Would she go along with everything Greg said? Moriarty asks.

"Everything. If he said it, you know, that's what it was. She didn't even question it."

"Do you think Tausha was afraid of Greg?"

"Oh, most definitely," Bowden says. "I mean honestly, to me, she was terrified of Greg."

According to Bowden, there's no way Tausha Fields could have manipulated Greg Morton.

"Tausha's supposed to be the mastermind of this whole ordeal, and Greg's just gonna go along with it? No. it's the other way around," she insists.

But prosecutors call Tausha's ex-boyfriend, Keith Jones, who tells jurors how Tausha, herself, admitted to planning Mitch Kemp's murder.

Keith Jones: What it sounded like to me was she coerced him, lured him back to the house.

Prosecutor Hicks: Lured him back to the house, is that what she told you?

Keith Jones: Yes.

"How important is that one word, the word 'lure,' " Moriarty asks Hood.

"It is the word," he replies. "It is the most important word, because if she just drives Mitch out to the farm, not knowing that Greg is gonna murder Mitchell Kemp, she's not guilty. But if she 'lured' him out there, then it's a conspiracy. She's in on it."

"You're sure you heard the word 'lure'" Moriarty asks Jones.

"I'm positive," he says. "I'll remember that till I die."

Tausha says Keith Jones may have heard the word "lure," but not from her.

"So where did Keith get that?" Moriarty asks Tausha.

"From Greg," she replies. "That's Greg's story."

Tausha says Morton and Jones got to know each other after she introduced them two years after the murder. "Greg and Keith were friends. Greg loaned him money," she explains.

"Are you saying Keith Jones deliberately lied at trial or made up the story?" Moriarty asks Hood.

"I think he has a creative memory," Hood says. "I don't think it was deliberate. I think he remembers things incorrectly."

Over the course of seven days of trial, the jury would also hear from Mitch Kemp's family.

Michelle Kemp: I didn't realize how much he was there until he was gone.

And Tausha's ex boyfriend, Dewayne Barrentine.

Defense Attorney Hood: You thought she was cheating on you with another man ... Is it fair to say you don't like her very much?

Dewayne Barrentine: Past is the past.

Jurors would also watch more than eight hours of Tausha's police interviews.

"What's the best you can get for Tausha at the end of this trial? What's the best you can hope for?" Moriarty asks Hood.

"I hope they acquit her entirely," he replies.

"Is that realistic? To think the jury's gonna say, 'Oh she had nothing to do with this?'"

"Yes. ...because of her wiliness to help the detectives."

"Mitch is gone. He's not coming back," Tausha says. "But is not my fault that he's dead. I'm not the mastermind of a crime."

After five days of testimony, Defense Attorney Paul Hood has one last chance to save Tausha Fields.

"This is a very stark case. It's a case of extreme contrasts," Hood tells the court in his closing argument. "Tausha Fields is either a monster - a conniving, manipulative monster - or she is the victim of Greg Morton."

Paul Hood believes the case comes down to Greg Morton's word against Tausha's.

Tausha hopes the jury will conclude that Morton is lying. "I don't know how somebody that shoots somebody six times is credible," she tells Erin Moriarty.

"Mitch was having an affair with Tausha and that really hurt Greg's ego," Hood continues in court.

Hood reminds the jury that without Tausha Fields, the disappearance of Mitch Kemp would still be a mystery.

"She helped solve this case. She led them to the body," Hood tells jurors. "She wanted to help and she did. And the justice system chewed her up. And you're the only ones that can change it. Please don't take away her freedom."

But Prosecutor Richard Hicks has a different take: Tausha Fields "the manipulator" was simply "out manipulated."

"I really think she believed she was convincing law enforcement that she was not involved," he tells Moriarty.

"Poor, poor Tausha," Hicks tells the court in his closing argument. "She's a victim of the system. It's the same system that gave her multiple opportunities to simply tell the truth."

As for fear of Morton being the reason Tausha lied, Hicks tells Moriarty, "I don't believe for a second that Tausha was afraid of Greg Morton."

"This was self preservation. It wasn't fear," he continues in court. "She of her own free will spun this web of deception."

Then, for the first time since the trial began, Prosecutor Hicks gives the jury his explanation for why Tausha wanted Mitch Kemp dead. Her motive, he says, was to keep their daughter, Lexie, for herself.

"She loved this daughter. This is what the murder was about. The only way Tausha could assure, ensure, make sure that Mitch never had any kind of custody - joint, sole, whatever - was that he ended up four or five feet underground," he says.

"If it was a custody battle, then Mitch has an attorney and he's filed paperwork and we're in a custody battle," Tausha says. "But there wasn't."

"I had Lexie. I had Lexie all the time. He saw her sometimes but we didn't argue," she continues. "I had the perfect situation."

"The defense wants to scare you here that you're sending away an innocent woman? You know in your heart that she's involved," Hicks continues in court. "Find her guilty."

Jurors faced an agonizing decision: Was Tausha innocent? Or, if guilty, was she guilty of first- or second-degree murder?

"The reality was if a guilty verdict came back, I could never be with Lexie again," says Tausha.

If jurors found Tausha guilty of first-degree murder, she would receive a harsher sentence than the shooter, Greg Morton. That troubled the panel.

"We're like, 'Well Greg did this. So you know, Tausha shouldn't get a higher sentence," a juror tells Moriarty after the trial.

"That was a real big contention, I think, for all of us," a second juror says.

But was Tausha even guilty?

"Who do we believe more? You know, it's Tausha's story versus Greg's story," says the first juror.

"I was one that had a little more trouble with Greg Morton's testimony ... he wasn't that convincing," the second juror explains. "He appeared to me as if he were well coached."

Finally, after eight hours, the jury returned to court with its verdict: Guilty of first-degree murder.

"I sat on my hands and I stared on the wall. I was just, I wasn't there," Tausha says of hearing the verdict. "I heard the beginning of 'guilty' and I was done. I didn't say anything ... and I stood up and walked out."

In the end, Tausha Fields' lies were her downfall.

"I found it hard to believe anything she said," says a third juror.

"Tausha's story changed every time we heard it," the first juror explains. "Greg's story never changed."

A fourth juror tells Moriarty, "I thought he was more credible than she was."

"You believe Greg when he says that this woman manipulated him into dong something he never would have done on his own?" Moriarty asks the panel of female jurors.

"I do. I know it sounds crazy... But it's not just Greg, you know. She had some kind of power over men," says the first juror.

"We had some men on the jury and the men were like, 'What has she got going on?'" the fourth juror says. "That's still a mystery."

For Tausha's two ex-boyfriends - Keith Jones, who first heard the story of murder, and Dewayne Barrentine, the sleuth who started the investigation against Tausha - the verdict was just.

"She made a lotta people's lives miserable. I mean miserable," says Jones.

"I was ecstatic. I was happy," Barrentine says. "That family in Missouri, they at least can now say they have closure."

"No matter what the verdict was, it's not gonna bring my best friend back," says Tracy Kemp. "It's not gonna fill that void in my life."

It's finally justice for Mitch Kemp, but for the now 8-year-old child at the center of it all, maybe even the motive for murder, Lexie Kemp is now without her father and her mother. Tausha Fields will spend the rest of her life in prison.

"She has every right to be mad at me, and blame me for what she's going through," Tausha says, "but, in the event that I don't talk to Lexie and I don't see her, she'll see this. She'll see the truth."

Mitch Kemp's brother, Tracy, and his family are legal guardians of Lexie.

Tausha Fields is appealing the verdict.

Greg Morton will be eligible for parole in 2022. He will be 54 years old.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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