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Man convicted of killing Navy man, wounding cousin outside Horton Plaza comedy club

Posted at 3:56 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 18:56:57-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 41-year-old documented gang member was convicted Wednesday of murder and attempted murder in the shooting death of a career Navy man and the wounding of his cousin outside a comedy club at Horton Plaza.

Jurors deliberated for nearly two days before finding Arrow Morris guilty of the two felony charges, in addition to sentence-enhancing allegations of using a firearm and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with three guns investigators found during a search of his girlfriend's home.

Morris, who is scheduled to be sentenced May 20, faces more than 80 years to life in prison for the killing of 43-year-old James Celani, who was struck in the head, neck and chest. His cousin was grazed in the leg.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund said that on the night of June 10, 2017, following a violent confrontation with his girlfriend, Morris and his brother walked away from the club and encountered Celani and his cousin, who were walking past them in the opposite direction.

Maund told jurors that either Celani or his cousin said "What's up?" to the Morris brothers as they walked past, to which Morris replied "Don't (expletive) talk to me," then began firing.

The prosecutor said Morris, still in a rage over the confrontation with his girlfriend, took his anger out on Celani and his cousin, some of the first people he came across after leaving the club.

The shooting happened to "a truly innocent, vulnerable victim," Maund said, "and it could have been anyone."

Maund said several witnesses pointed to the shooter as a man wearing a red shirt, red hat and white jacket, which Morris can be seen wearing in surveillance footage from Horton Plaza and a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Defense attorney Steward Dadmun contended that witnesses mistook his client for his brother, who, according to Dadmun, was the actual shooter. The whereabouts of Morris' brother was unclear.

"None of these witnesses passes the reasonable doubt test, not a single one of them," Dadmun told the jury.

According to Dadmun, Morris had "no idea" his sibling was going to begin shooting, while Maund maintained that the altercation with his girlfriend left Morris enraged and prone to violence.

"The defendant was angry, the defendant had a gun and he wasn't backing down," the prosecutor said.

Morris was arrested two days after the shooting during a traffic stop in Serra Mesa.