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Daughter testifies again after being warned to tell the truth

John E. Morgan, left, talks to one of his attorneys, Brandon Henderson, right, during the lunch break in Morgan’s murder trial Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The women in the foreground are employees of the law firm where Henderson works.

YOUNGSTOWN — Kaitlynn Morgan resumed her testimony Thursday in the murder trial of her father, John E. Morgan, 47, of Campbell. She was the first witness in the trial.

Her testimony Thursday came a day after Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court warned her not to “stall” or “tell a different story now, as opposed to your text messages” or she could be held in contempt of court.

The warning was given Wednesday after exchanges between her and Brandon Henderson, one of her father’s attorneys, regarding text messages attributed to Kaitlynn around the time of the killing.

Henderson repeatedly asked her about the comments, and she repeatedly said she did not remember having said those things. The comments were frequently critical of Danny Peek Sr., the man her father is accused of killing.

Much of the time she also did not answer the question she was being asked and instead offered a rebuttal.

John E. Morgan, 47, of Campbell is on trial in the July 31, 2022, shooting death of Peek outside of Peek’s home on East Florida Avenue on the South Side. The trial resumes this morning.

During the testimony, she called Peek her stepfather. Kaitlynn and her mother, Mary Morgan, were living with Peek at the time Peek was killed.

Henderson gave Kaitlynn printouts Wednesday of the comments attributed to her and asked her again about them. But the interactions continued to bog down, leading to the judge’s warning and the testimony for Wednesday being cut short.

When testimony resumed Thursday, Kaitlynn was back on the stand. This time, she was given the text messages to review beforehand.

She continued to say she did not remember, but this time she acknowledged that the information attributed to her was in the messages. She still said she did not remember saying them and added that she does not hold those opinions now, saying it was only how she felt “at the time.”

Henderson spent a long time again Thursday asking Kaitlynn about the text messages. The answers seemed to suggest she had mostly defended her father at the time of the killing but she was no longer defending him. Henderson’s questioning seemed to be asking whether the reason she no longer defended her father was because of pressure from the Peek family and from her mother.

After that, Pat Fening, county assistant prosecutor, asked Kaitlynn what her “at the time” remarks meant.

“I don’t agree with however I felt at the time” the text messages were written, she said. She continued, “From the messages, it sounded like I believed in my dad, I believed what he would tell me.”

Fening asked her about questions Henderson asked her about whether she was fearful of the way the Peek family or her mother might treat her if she didn’t take their side in the criminal case against her father.

“Are you scared of any repercussions from the Peek family in this matter?” Fening asked.

“No,” she said. “Scared of any repercussions from your mom?” Fening asked.

“No,” she said. “Are you scared of any repercussions from anybody in this case?”

“At this point no,” Kaitlynn answered.

After that exchange, Henderson asked Kaitlynn, 23, if it were true she had been lying to “everybody here” about what she knows about the killing of Danny Peek Sr.

“To your side, yeah,” she replied.

“So you’ve lied to us. You lied to your mother, right?” Henderson asked.

“In the beginning, yeah,” she replied.

“You’ve lied to your father, correct?”

“Pretty much my whole life, yeah,” she said.

“Who else have you lied to?” Henderson asked. “Have you lied to the folks in the jury?” It’s not clear if she answered. Then Henderson asked if it was true he caught her in lies on Wednesday.

“I remember saying ‘I don’t know and I don’t think so’ to pretty much everything you asked me,” she said.

One of the exchanges on Thursday illustrates the interactions between Henderson and Kaitlyn:

Henderson referenced a text message apparently saying that on the day of the killing, she waited until Peek went to take a shower and contacted her dad to come over to take her and her son to a family dinner.

“Daniel Peek noticed you with a diaper bag,” Henderson said.

“Yeah,” she said.

“He got pissed off,” he said.

“Yes,” she agreed.

“Because he knew your dad was coming over,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. A little later Henderson asked if once Peek knew her dad was going over, he went and waited on the porch.

“After a little bit, yeah, he was on the porch,” she said.

Henderson asked if Peek told her she “better get your (deleted) down the street.” She agreed that was said but he did not talk like that to her very often.

She agreed that Peek was “upset” because her father was coming. And she agreed that the reason Peek went and sat on the front porch was because her dad was coming.

Three Youngstown police officers testified after Kaitlynn’s testimony was over.

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