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Bail is lowered in slashing case

A teenager, charged with attempted murder after his stepbrother's throat was slashed, has his bail reduced.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000

DADE CITY -- A judge on Wednesday reduced bail to $75,000 for a Zephyrhills High School student accused of cutting his stepbrother's throat and watching him bleed.

Joey Dennis Morton, 18, had been held in the county jail in Land O'Lakes in lieu of $150,000 bail since the Feb. 18 attack. Morton is charged with attempted murder.

His attorney, John Rine, told Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb at a hearing Wednesday that Morton's family could only afford $40,000 bail, which would require them to put up 10 percent of the amount in cash.

Rine also told the judge that Morton wanted to get out of jail while awaiting trial so he could graduate with his classmates. Morton also wants to join the U.S. Marine Corps, Rine said.

Morton's family said after the hearing that they might be able to afford the reduced bail by using their property as collateral for cash.

Morton admitted that he attacked his 18-year-old stepbrother, Jacob Leab, as the teen slept in the family's Crystal Springs house, court records state. After punching his sleeping stepbrother in the face and slicing his throat, Morton told deputies, he dragged Leab outside and left him in the street, according to reports.

Leab, a graduate of Pasco High School, survived the attack and is recovering at home.

According to court records, Morton said he attacked his stepbrother because Leab allegedly tried to batter Morton's mother, Laura Bordonaro Leab.

Rine said Morton deserved a bail reduction because he had no prior criminal record. Rine also said the allegations that Leab had battered Morton's mother "explain (Morton's) actions."

Assistant State Attorney Phil Van Allen, who opposed the bail reduction, said Morton faces a minimum of seven years in prison if convicted as charged. The charge carries a maximum of life imprisonment, the prosecutor said.

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