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Defendant in murder case takes plea deal to testify

scales of justiceROCKVILLE – One of three defendants in the robbery and killing of a 26-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to accessory to robbery after the fact and will be cleared of other charges.

Latoya Morgan, 33, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify at trial of the two other defendants, Dion Sobotker and Samantha Parker, in the case during a trial scheduled for July 13. The three had been charged in connection with the murder of Jonathan Harris, who was found in his Silver Spring apartment in December.

Harris had been part of a kidney transplant exchange featured on the “Today” show in 2010 involving 32 people. His kidney failed when he was 12, and then a donation from his brother also failed.

Morgan faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail for her plea in addition to potential repercussions for violating her probation on a charge of sexual solicitation in the District of Columbia. She was cleared on the counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Harris’ mother, Patricia Harris, said the court appearance today “tug(s) at my heart,” but she feels the case is moving toward justice for her son.

“I put it in God’s hands ... he is going to order our steps,” she said. She was with her friend and neighbor Kathy Ennis, whom she described as a second mother to Jonathan.

“I’m speechless,” Ennis said. “I just love Jonathan so much, and we’re just praying for the justice he deserves.”

According to the account of events stated by state prosecutor Michael Algeo, police responded to a call from Patricia Harris on the morning of Dec. 6 about a burglary. Police found the victim’s body in the home. Patricia had not spoken to her son since the previous morning.

Police found no sign of forced entry, but the medical examiner determined Harris had died from asphyxiation. The suspects had taken credit cards, keys, a wallet, two televisions and an iPhone, among other possessions.

Algeo said police found Sobotker and Morgan on surveillance video later on Dec. 5 after they used the victim’s credit card at a gas station in Frederick and then at a fast-food drive-thru in Riverdale, where it was denied for lack of funds. Morgan learned at the gas station the wallet had been taken, according to Algeo’s account of events.

Morgan’s attorney, Rene Sandler, said it was a “sad and tragic case,” but she was happy with the plea.

“I’m very pleased the state correctly identified Ms. Morgan’s role in that it was limited to activities after the crime occurred. She had no knowledge any murder would take place,” Sandler said.

Algeo said he did not want to comment because of the upcoming trial for Sobotker and Parker. Both are facing one count each of first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Morgan’s sentencing is scheduled for July 22 at 1:30 p.m.

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