More than two years after a Modesto man was shot and left to die near a road in north Modesto, the man accused of killing him is behind bars.
Gregory Fisher, 30, of Modesto was charged Thursday in the death of Brian Morris, whose body was found June 11, 2010, along Costner Road.
Fisher was in custody on rape, multiple domestic violence charges and burglary when the murder charge was added to the list Thursday and his bail was bumped to $3 million.
"I just want to look at his eyes and see the type of person that he is," said Morris' mother, Myra Morris. "I want to see if he has a soul."
Morris' body was discovered about 6 a.m. by a passer-by. Just before 3 a.m., Morris' image had been captured on a surveillance camera at Stop 'N Save Groceries & Liquor at Carver Road and Standiford Avenue, where he paid to gas up a Ford Taurus that didn't belong to him.
On the surveillance footage with Morris is a heavyset black man in his late 30s. After months of searching, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department detectives located the man late last year.
Detective Frank Soria did not disclose how they found the man.
He was not arrested, but one of his nephews, Fisher, was taken into custody. Soria said Fisher was at the gas station that night.
Detectives have talked to the man seen on the surveillance footage and are still looking for a third person who was at the gas station with Morris — an unidentified woman they hope can fill in missing pieces of the story.
What they do know, Soria said, is that the slaying, in part, is believed to have been precipitated by an argument over that Ford Taurus, during which Morris, Fisher, his uncle and the woman left the gas station.
Soria said the car was the same make and model as a car that had been stolen from one of Morris' friends. Morris is believed to have confronted Fisher's uncle about the car the week before his death but later apologized.
Soria said he is investigating what role the argument about the car played in the slaying, but he doesn't believe it could be the only motivating factor.
Morris ran into the three people at the gas station by chance as he walked home from a bar.
Soria believes Morris was shot at the location where his body was found.
He said tips, interviews and DNA evidence led to Fisher's arrest on suspicion of murder.
"It was a long time coming," said the victim's brother Alan Morris. "I am elated. It has been an emotional roller-coaster."
Not guilty plea Thursday
Myra Morris said the family has been in close contact with Soria and never has given up hope her son's killer would be arrested.
"I feel, joy, happiness and yet sadness," she said Thursday. "It is not going to bring my son back, but I am glad that the person is caught and that he can't do this to anyone else."
Fisher pleaded not guilty in court Thursday afternoon. He did not waive his right to a speedy trial, so his preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 5, but he will be back in court for a pretrial hearing Monday.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080. Callers can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can e-mail at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Tipsters are eligible for a reward.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2366.
Video from 2010 interview