A Buffalo man accused of raping and killing a 13-year-old girl last year in his East Side apartment told police she fell and hit her head after he pushed her during an argument.
Darshawn Morris, 21, also told police he stabbed Lanasha Roll and slit her neck. He said he doused her body with gasoline but could not bring himself to burn her body, according to detectives who testified this week at a hearing in State Supreme Court.
Morris, also known as “Slink,” faces a jury trial March 3 on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree rape and second-degree criminal sexual act in the Sept. 1 attack. He remains in custody without bail.
Police said Lanasha attended a party on Aug. 31 at 160 Hagen St. that lasted into the early morning hours of Sept. 1, the last time the aspiring model was seen alive.
A search began on that Sunday when her family reported her missing. Her body was found the night of Sept. 3 behind a Newburgh Street garage bordering Morris’ backyard.
Police arrested Morris on Sept. 4.
After his arrest, Morris was taken to Buffalo Police Headquarters for questioning following his release from the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at Erie County Medical Center, where he had sought treatment.
A judge scheduled this week’s hearing to hear arguments on whether Morris voluntarily made his statements to police on Sept. 4 and 5.
Retired Homicide Detective Sgt. James Lonergan testified that he read Morris his Miranda rights before questioning him.
Morris first denied involvement in the teen’s disappearance, but after Lonergan told Morris police talked to witnesses who implicated him, Morris told Lonergan that he and Lanasha had argued. When he pushed her, she fell and hit her head, Morris said, according to the detective.
When Lonergan asked Morris if he stabbed her, Morris admitted he did, although he was unsure how many times, Lonergan testified under questioning from prosecutor James F. Bargnesi, the homicide bureau chief for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
The detective said he asked Morris if he had sex with the teenager before stabbing her, and Morris said no.
Lonergan said he then asked Morris for a more detailed statement. After typing the statement, Lonergan said he asked Morris to sign it, but Morris refused.
Lonergan then left him alone in the interview room.
Homicide Detective Scott Malec testified that Lonergan told him to go into the room and handcuff Morris.
While doing so, Morris told him he committed the crime and wanted to sign the statement, Malec said.
Morris read the statement, and when Malec asked him if it was true, Morris said he had left out some things: slitting the girl’s neck in the garage and dousing her with gasoline.
Malec said he questioned Morris without again reading him his Miranda rights.
The detective said he typed a second statement, which Morris read and signed.
The detective told Assistant District Attorney Patrick B. Shanahan that he then let Morris call his mother. Morris told her that he gave police a statement admitting the crime and that he was going to jail, Malec testified.
Malec told defense attorney Robert J. Cutting, who, with attorney Emily Trott, represents Morris, that he started the second statement at 1:50 a.m. and completed it at 2:40 a.m.
During another hearing on witness identification, Detective Michael Mordino said a witness picked out Morris from a photo array as the man the witness saw the morning of Sept. 1 carrying a mattress across a street along with a bottle of bleach. The witness knew the man from the neighborhood by the name “Slink,” Mordino said.
Justice M. William Boller said he will rule later this month on whether he will allow prosecutors to use the police statements and identification at trial.