Gulbertson: Two others killed Morrow

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chad Jamie Gulbertson testified Wednesday at the Rice County Courthouse that a man and a woman met him at Jody Lee Morrow’s trailer early the morning of her death and that they were the ones who ultimately killed Morrow.

Gulbertson said he told police he had done the act because he felt responsible for it; but in actuality he only witnessed it and did not participate in it.

He said he was standing behind the two attackers — who he alleged to be Joseph Lee and Sandra Nash, both of Albert Lea — while Lee hit Morrow with the ball-peen hammer and Nash struck her with a knife in the trailer. Because he was behind them, he did not get any blood on him.

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Lee and Nash testified last week in the trial.

Lee was a former roommate of Morrow and Gulbertson. Both he and Nash had also been associated with the couple through Cedar House, the day-treatment facility for mental health issues.

This was the first time Gulbertson had issued a statement involving Lee and Nash with the killing.

In all other interviews or phone calls to friends or family prior to his testimony Wednesday, Gulbertson stated he had killed his ex-girlfriend.

At one time he told a family member Morrow had grabbed a hammer and then a knife and tried to hit him, while at another time he said she grabbed the knife first and he grabbed the hammer in self defense.

When asked Wednesday by his lawyer why he was testifying differently in court, Gulbertson responded: “I didn’t realize how it was affecting my father.”

He said he was not testifying that way to escape liability of the crime.

Leading up to the murder

Gulbertson said on June 20, 2009, the day before Morrow’s death, he woke up between 8 and 9 a.m. while staying at his friend Al Ankerson’s apartment on Euclid Avenue.

He went over to Nash’s house on Court Street around 10 a.m., carrying with him a blue backpack.

While there, she returned a movie to him that she had borrowed, and they watched a movie. He estimated he was there for a couple hours.

Afterward, he dropped off his backpack at Ankerson’s before stopping by his friend Randy Merrill’s apartment on Main Street. He was there just for a short period of time because Merrill was not home, and then he went to City Beach, where he went swimming. It was at that time, he noted, that he got his socks and shoes wet.

He estimated he swam until probably 3 p.m., after which he returned to Ankerson’s house, showered and put on the same jeans and T-shirt he wore the entire weekend, he said.

Around 5 p.m. he went back to Nash’s, carrying with him his blue backpack and his leather jacket.

Gulbertson said he and Nash watched some of the second “Pirates of the Carribean” movie and had a couple beers. Nash also allegedly smoked methamphetamine, he said.

He estimated he left around 8 p.m. when he left to return to Ankerson’s and make something to eat. He said this was the first time he had eaten all day, during which he ate Brussels sprouts.

About 20 minutes later, he said he returned to Nash’s house where he drank another beer and watched the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. During that visit, Nash allegedly had more methamphetamine, and he might have had some marijuana.

Gulbertson said he and Nash had a conversation about going over to Morrow’s trailer. He told Nash he wanted to go to the trailer to get some of his jewelry-making supplies.

“I missed Jody, and I missed the cats,” he said, noting that the cats were like he and Morrow’s children.

Because Morrow had an order for protection against Gulbertson, Nash said she would go pick up Lee and the two of them would meet him at the trailer.

Gulbertson said he left Nash’s around 11:30 p.m., when he skateboarded to Ankerson’s, and stayed for probably five minutes.

Afterward, he got on his maroon and white bike and headed down to the trailer at 730 Larimore Circle.

He said he had his leather jacket and a blue backpack with him.

There were no intentions of hurting Morrow, he added.

“I just wanted to go home,” Gulbertson said.

He got to the trailer park 15 to 20 minutes later, when he left his bike in the field adjacent to the park and then walked to Morrow’s trailer through the back exit. He met Nash and Lee outside near the trailer.

Gulbertson said the three knocked on the back door near Morrow’s bedroom, where she was watching TV.

They first spoke to Morrow through the window next to the door and then Morrow let them in.

The four of them went to the front room of the trailer.

Gulbertson said Morrow was sitting in her wheelchair by her computer area, he was in his chair and Nash and Lee were in front of him in between himself and Morrow.

Morrow was talking with Lee when the issue of $400 that Lee reportedly owed her was brought up. Gulbertson said Morrow wanted the money so she could get her kids up to visit her.

Morrow started yelling, and Gulbertson said she came after Lee with a knife and Lee grabbed a hammer off of a nearby table.

Lee swung back and hit Morrow on the head. Gulbertson said he tried to intercept the hammer with his hand and that’s how his hand got injured.

Nash grabbed the knife from Morrow and inflicted the neck injuries. Lee made all the blows with the hammer.

“I couldn’t believe it happened,” Gulbertson said. “It seemed not real.”

He said he was “freaking out” and crying.

As he told the story in court on Wednesday, he showed no major emotion.

He said he felt responsible for what had happened because he was the one who had Nash and Lee come with him. He accepted to take blame for the murder.

He said the three left right away. There was no talk of how to dispose of evidence.

“I actually just wanted to commit suicide and be with Jody,” he testified.

He said he walked back with his bike to Ankerson’s apartment where “I sat there and bawled and bawled and bawled.”

Around 6 a.m., he used a cell phone from some Hispanics he found nearby to call his father and ask him to pick him up. He did not know what happened to Nash or Lee.

Later at around 9:30 or 10 a.m., Gulbertson said he told his father he thought he had killed Morrow.

“I felt responsible for what happened,” he said.

They cried at his father’s house for a while and then drove to the Law Enforcement Center around 11:30 a.m.

He said he didn’t know why he never told his parents or friends about this version of the murder in the past. He said he was comfortable with going to prison as he had been there before.

His testimony came as the second defense witness in the case.

Gulbertson faces five counts of murder in Morrow’s death.