Local News

Couple Says 'I Do' to Atypical Marriage

Posted June 21, 2007 6:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2007 8:09 p.m. EDT

— Tracy Cope – now Tracy Morgan –- had never kissed her husband until they were married Friday.

After a 4½-year courtship through the mail and five visits from Nottinghamshire, England, to Raleigh, she married James Lewis Morgan.

Morgan, 52, is a death row inmate at Central Prison, convicted of the November 1997 stabbing death of Patrina Lynette King, 34, of Asheville.

The two met when Cope joined an inmate pen-pal program and started writing to Morgan. Their friendship quickly turned into romance when they shared poetry, she said.

"It was called, 'Where Is My Beloved?'" Cope said. "When he wrote back, he was so touched by it, and he said, "Nobody's ever called me beloved before."

A year into the relationship, Cope said her parents bought her a wedding dress – one that she would not wear for more than three years.

Cope said they discussed the crime Morgan was convicted of committing, but that it is no longer a concern to her "once I found out all the details."

Cope jumped immigration hurdles and worked around the clock to gain the prison's permission. The couple married Friday in a ceremony in which prison officials permitted them to hold hands, hug and kiss. Their visits from now on will be through a glass partition.

"I mean, before we got married, we accepted that. Once the wedding was over, we knew we were going to be separated," Cope said.

As for whether or not they will ever be together outside the prison walls, Morgan said she is optimistic.

"We never give up hope," she said. "We say that with God, all things are possible."

According to the North Carolina Department of Correction, only two people have gotten married at Central Prison in the past five years, and only one of them was on death row – Morgan.

The prison has a strict policy about who can get married and how and when weddings take place. Cope plans to stay in Raleigh with her 15-year-old son. She will be permitted to have a non-contact visit with her husband for about 1.5 hours each week.