HAYWARD -- The girlfriend of Ricky Ziesmer, a felon killed by Cort Holbrook in a March 2011 road rage incident in Livermore, was arrested in court Thursday during her witness testimony.
The defense's attorney revealed she had a $25,036 warrant for her arrest.
Roschelle Morgan teared up at the end of the second day of the murder trial as Judge Kevin Murphy explained in front of the jury that she would be remanded into custody for an outstanding felony drug warrant out of Napa County.
"Why did you still come to court despite knowing you could be taken into custody?" asked Deputy District Attorney Brian Owens.
"It was the right thing to do for Rick," Morgan said through choked sobs.
Ziesmer, 48, of Fremont, was stabbed in the altercation by Holbrook, who has said it was self-defense after Ziesmer beat him to the ground and then came back at him.
The defense had alleged in court that Morgan may have altered her statement in hopes of special consideration on her own felony warrants for being a cooperative witness.
Owens played for the courtroom a videotape of Morgan's statement to Livermore police on March 9, 2011 to eliminate concern that she was made promises in exchange for cooperation.
Asked why she left the killing scene instead of staying to wait for police, Morgan
"I was just trying to get away from him," Morgan said. "I thought he was on the phone with his good ol' boys, his homeboys. I thought he was calling them to swoop me up and get rid of me so I couldn't testify for Rick."
Holbrook's attorney, Timothy Rien, asked Morgan why she took so long to arrive at the hospital where Ziesmer was undergoing surgery for stab wounds to his heart and lungs.
"I feared there was something wrong with him, and I didn't want to know that yet," Morgan said.
"Was the reason you didn't want to stop because of drugs?" Rien asked.
"Absolutely not," Morgan said.
Dr. John Iocco, a board certified forensic pathologist for the Alameda County Coroner's Office, told jurors, who were shown photos of Ziesmer's stab wounds, that the smaller of the two wounds shown on Ziesmer's torso was the major contributor to Ziesmer's death, puncturing not only the lungs, but going through the front and the back of the tip of Ziesmer's heart. The larger wound was several inches deep into the shell of the lung, causing it to collapse.
The defense argued that the smaller wound, located just south of where Ziesmer was sewn up after emergency surgery, was exacerbated by the operation; saying that a man able to jog to his car, drive himself to the hospital and be conversant with emergency crews could not have been functioning so well considering the damage to his heart.
Holbrook was taken back into custody following the day's proceedings. The trial will continue Monday at the Hayward Hall of Justice.