Eirise Tisdale: Sgt. Gary Morales shooting suspect officially charged with first-degree murder

FORT PIERCE — Via a closed-circuit TV connection with the St. Lucie County Jail, Eriese Tisdale was advised that he has been charged with first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer for the Feb. 28 shooting death of St. Lucie County sheriff's Sgt. Gary Morales.

Tisdale also was told by Circuit Judge Robert Makemson that the grand jury indicted him on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers who pursued him, as well as new charges of cultivating marijuana, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and another charge of firearm possession by a felon.

Dressed in a dark orange prison jumpsuit abnd yellow slippers, Tisdale wore leg chains and had his wrists shackled to his waist during the hearing.

Before the hearing, Assistant Public Defender Shawn Yvette Brown told Tisdale, "My advice to you is to not say anything. Anything you say will be used against you."

Tisdale replied, "OK," and kept his responses to Makemson's questions short. His longest answer came when Makemson asked if he wanted to be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

"At this time, yes," he replied.

Makemson found probable cause to hold Tisdale without bond pending trial on the murder charge.

It was the 25-year-old Tisdale's second first appearance hearing.

The first was March 1, the day after the shooting, when he appeared in a TV hookup before St. Lucie County Judge Thomas Walsh to be charged with second-degree murder charge.

On Wednesday, a St. Lucie County grand jury indicted Tisdale on a charge of first-degree murder; and the new charge required a second first-appearance hearing. Only a grand jury can levy first-degree murder charge, issuing an indictment if jurors are convinced prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue a conviction.

Authorities claim Tisdale killed Morales, a 12-year veteran of the force, during a traffic stop about 9:30 a.m. Feb. 28 on Naylor Drive south of Fort Pierce, about a block from Tisdale's residence on Mura Drive.

According to sheriff's reports, the routine traffic stop turned tragic when Tisdale walked up to Morales' patrol car and fired, hitting the deputy at least three times, once in the head.

Morales was declared dead soon afterward. Investigators found his gun still in its holster, reports state.

According to Sheriff's Office reports, Deputy Clarence Bennett arrived as a backup during the shooting and fired five times at Tisdale, who fled, leading deputies on a short chase before he lost control of his car and crashed on Oleander Avenue.

At Tisdale's first hearing, Walsh denied bond, telling the defendant that "no amount of bond will assure your appearance at a future hearing."

Afterward, Tisdale was moved to Martin County Jail for his safety; but he appeared Friday from the St. Lucie County Jail because he had to be in the county where the charges were filed.

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