Local News

Family Of Slain Businessman Present At Alleged Killer's Arraignment

Posted June 13, 2006

— J.P. Morris' family and friends crowded onto a front row bench of a Durham courtroom Tuesday. They wanted to get a look at Robert Watson, whom police charged Monday with beating the 77-year-old businessman to death.

"He's already done some damage," said J.P. Morris' son, Reggie Morris. "I'm just glad he can't do any more."

"We've been praying for this for a long time," said J.P. Morris' daughter, Ginger Atkinson. "And I'm just enormously relieved."

One month ago, J.P. Morris' body was found inside his used-car business.

"I found him that morning, and it was hard on me," said employee Roosevelt Rand.

However, instead of thinking about how he died, family and friends concentrated Tuesday on the way he lived.

For twenty years, J.P. Morris' voice was heard on Sunday mornings on his Christian radio talk show. Loved ones described the man as colorful, and they said he loved his family, his customers and his community.

"My dad just had a huge heart for people," said Atkinson.

In a sense, his family said the whole situation is a bit ironic. For much of his life, J.P. Morris visited with and helped minister to convicted criminals.

"He would call me the next day and tell me about it -- who he talked with, who he prayed with," said Atkinson. "It was a big part of his life."

While Watson barely glanced at the family in court, their mere presence on the front row made it clear that J.P. Morris' life mattered.

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