Cellmate Testifies Justin Ross Bragged in Jail About Killing Andre Herron
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A former cellmate testified Thursday that Justin Ross bragged about firing the fatal shot that killed Andre Herron in 2011.
"He was running his mouth every day, bragging about how he was in jail for murder," Jason Morris, 30, of Cedar Rapids, said. "He said he had killed a guy named Crunchy (aka Andre Herron)... shot him with a .45. He said he (fired) the fatal shot - in the back."
Justin Ross, 19, charged with first-degree murder, is accused of killing Andre Herron, 30, of Cedar Rapids, Nov. 26, 2011. Herron was found dead on 7th Street SW that night. According to the criminal complaint, Justin Ross killed Herron with a .45 caliber revolver.
His cousin Donovan Ross, 21, of Hiawatha, is also charged with first-degree murder for his part in the shooting. His trial is set Oct. 7.
Justin Ross claims his cousin is the one who shot Herron in the back that night, according to the opening statement by the defense. He had no "beef" with Herron.
The trial should wrap up Friday. The prosecution will rest in the morning and the defense will start it's case, but the judge told the jury they would be able to start deliberations in the afternoon.
Morris, who was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded to assault causing bodily injury last year for stabbing a man, said Justin Ross was in the same cell pod with him for 45 days. Justin Ross told Morris that Donovan Ross asked him to help him - "to kill Crunchy."
Justin Ross said he had a .45 caliber revolver and his cousin had a .22 caliber gun, Morris said.
Morris said Justin Ross wasn't remorseful. He bragged in jail to "make himself seem like a killer. He would get up every morning and say "blam, blam, blam.' I didn't know what he meant and he said 'I killed a dude.'"
Morris said Justin Ross even showed Herron's autopsy photo to the other inmates in their pod.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Besler asked Morris if he was offered his assault plea in exchange for his testimony and if he was being truthful in his testimony.
Morris said he wasn't offered the plea for testimony. He is on probation for the assault and if he commits perjury it would be a violation that could send him to prison for five years.
Jason Dunn, Justin Ross' attorney, on cross examination asked if Besler was the prosecutor on Morris' previous drug charge, dealing cocaine, and the attempted murder charge.
Morris said yes.
Besler on re-direct asked when Morris told police about the information he had regarding Justin Ross.
Morris said after he was sentenced last year on the assault plea.
In earlier testimony, Dr. Michelle Cavalier, associate state medical examiner and forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Herron, said he had one gunshot wound that entered his back on the left side and exited on the right side of his chest. The bullet hit his pulmonary artery and hit the top right side of his heart and in the middle of his lung. She said it wasn't consistent with a close range firing.
Victor Murillo, a criminalist with Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, also testified about the .45 caliber bullet that killed Herron but he couldn't determine the weapon used and he couldn't determine if the bullet could have come from one of two fired cartridges found at the scene. He did conclude the two cartridges were fired from the same gun.