by Lillian Rizzo
Ramel Fletcher’s family and friends came to room 36 of Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday to hear the testimony of Darrell Morse, who stands accused of Ramel’s murder.
There were nine of them — Ramel’s mother, aunt, cousins and friends. They sat at a distance from one another, occupying the right side of the gallery. Some wore basketball jerseys, jeans and t-shirts. Ramel’s mother and aunt wore slacks and kept their jackets on. Everyone wore a frown.
Ramel was 24 when he was killed in September 2008 in front of his home at the Bay View Houses on Seaview Avenue and East 102 Street.
Morse was charged with second-degree manslaughter and possession of a weapon. On Sept. 28 Morse and Ramel got into an argument over a girl at Bay View. Louise Fletcher, Ramel’s aunt, said they hadn’t known each other before then.
Morse testified that he was at his apartment window when he began shouting down to Ramel, arguing over a girl. After the conversation got heated, Morse put a kitchen knife in his pocket and went downstairs to confront Ramel.
Ramel’s cousin Tyrone and friend Jerome Antley, who both testified earlier in the week, were there at the time. At Antley’s suggestion they “went around the corner,” and after some arguing, Morse said Ramel initiated the physical fight when he pushed him.
Morse admitted to then taking out the kitchen knife and cutting Ramel in the throat. He then ran from the scene and was caught two weeks later by police. At the time he signed a confession, admitting to the crime. In the final line he stated, “I have nothing to hide about anything.”
Although Morse readily admitted to the murder, he now says he acted in self-defense. The Fletchers remained composed during his account of Ramel’s murder. When Morse said Ramel took a razor blade from his mouth during the fight, three of his male relatives in the back row shook their heads.
Tyrone Fletcher, Ramel’s cousin, listened with his head down. Tyrone had been part of the altercation and witnessed the killing. But as Morse testified that Ramel initiated the fight, Tyrone rose, pulled on jacket and stormed out of the room.
“Not my cousin,” he mumbled, shaking his head and pushing open the door. He returned to the room after 20 minutes when Morse had left the stand.
This was not his only outburst. At the end of the trial Judge Joel Goldberg had said Tyrone would be banned from the rest of the proceedings. Tuesday’s trial had barely begun, Goldberg said, when Tyrone stood up and began making noises. Goldberg felt it could influence the jury and since his time as a witness was finished it would be best if he didn’t return.
Tuesday’s testimony had ended and Tyrone was the first to enter the corridor, tears filling his eyes. He refused to accept Morse’s version of events.
The rest of the family followed Tyrone out. Flidner began speaking to the group and after a few minutes of pacing, Tyrone joined them.
As she boarded the 20th floor elevator, Ramel’s mother remained mostly quiet. With her arms crossed, she looked straight ahead as the rest of the family talked about Morse’s testimony. Although they were upset, she felt better than she had before the trial.
“I feel a little better now,” said his mother, Rhonda Fletcher. “I just want to see him convicted to the fullest.”