Autopsy report confirms gunshots, struggle

Jul. 12, 2013 @ 05:57 PM

An autopsy report has been filed and made public in the shooting death of Curtis Lee Morton last August.

Morton, a 50-year-old with limited mobility, was shot and killed in his Hamilton Street home.

Darius Montrael “Gang” Benson is charged with first-degree murder in Morton’s death. According to police, Benson, 25, of 858 Eastway Drive, Henderson, went into Morton’s home on Hamilton Street, shot and killed him “with malice aforethought.”

Benson has an extensive record of breaking the law. Family and friends, in the days after he was killed, said Morton didn’t pose a threat to anyone.

According to the medical examiner’s report signed by Dr. James Goodwin, three rounds were fired and one killed Morton. Morton was able to pull a fire alarm as he sought to defend himself and guard his property from an apparent intruder.

The report said Morton died of a gunshot wound to the right side of his chest. The shot moved in the vicinity of his lung and heart and exited the right-front chest area near his left collarbone.

The report indicates an apparent altercation in the home, finding of two .40 caliber bullet casings inside and another outside, and a hole in a door apparently from a gunshot.

Dr. Clay Nichols signed the official autopsy report on July 5, noting the cause of death as a gunshot wound of the chest.

Noted by both doctors was massive loss of blood at the scene. The first call to responders was at 12:39 a.m., time of death is 1:25 a.m. and Goodwin was notified at 1:45 a.m.

According to Goodwin’s report, there was a delay in police response to the specific situation of a homicide because fire crews first arrived to determine that there was no fire threat. It was after that when “police finally entered the house through a window,” Goodwin wrote.

There were attempts to revive Morton at the scene, but to no avail.

According to Vance County and state offender records, Benson had been freed on $5,000 bond after a July 31, 2012, cocaine trafficking arrest, four days before the shooting incident that killed Morton.

Benson has multiple drug felony convictions. He’s been convicted of firearm possession by a felon.

Vance records note more than two dozen past charges of burglary, kidnapping, larceny, illegal gun possession or use, assault, threats, breaking and entering and vandalism.

State records note Benson spent five terms in prison, totaling 51 months, between 2006 and 2010.

On July 31, police charged Benson with trafficking and having 61 grams of cocaine for sale, and with having a black semi-automatic handgun.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.