Jealousy called motive for killing in Atascadero stabbing case

Tribune file photo by Joe Johnston

A 29-year-old Atascadero woman wanted to continue her relationship with her ex-girlfriend, and a night of heated emotion led her to stab the woman’s new boyfriend to death, a prosecutor said in opening statements Wednesday.

But Kelsey Morasci’s lawyer, Tom McCormick, said his client was acting in self-defense, and the knife she used actually was owned by the man she’s accused of killing.

Morasci has pleaded not guilty to the Aug. 6 murder of 21-year-old Everett Quaid of Paso Robles in the Atascadero apartment she and her ex-girlfriend shared.

Prosecutor Lee Cunningham said Grace Crabtree broke up with Morasci and had her sign a written agreement to move out of their apartment.

Cunningham said that Morasci had learned in the hours before the alleged murder that Crabtree was spending time with Quaid and that she had asked if he was her new boyfriend.

A small group at the apartment in the 9300 block of Musselman Drive the night of the alleged murder included Morasci, Quaid, Grace Crabtree, her sister Patty Crabtree, and Patty’s friend Damon Shannon.

Grace Crabtree said she didn’t want to talk about Quaid with Morasci then, Cunningham said.

Everyone at the apartment had been drinking that night, according to Shannon, a witness for the prosecution.

The prosecution alleges Morasci repeatedly stabbed Quaid with a Swiss Army knife after asking him to go outside to smoke a cigarette with her about 3:30 a.m.

She then attempted to follow Quaid with a steak knife she grabbed from the kitchen, Cunningham said.

Quaid was suffering from a wound to his upper chest and severe internal bleeding and went outside to the parking lot to escape her, Cunningham said. He later died from the wounds.

Shannon, now a 21-year-old Templeton resident, took the stand in the afternoon after opening statements.

He said that he was sitting on a couch in the early morning of Aug. 6 in the living room when he saw Morasci outside on the patio make a swinging, striking motion toward Quaid. Shannon said he could only partially see Quaid.

Shannon said he went outside and heard Quaid comment that he couldn’t believe she pulled a knife on him.

Shannon told Quaid to hand him the knife, which Quaid did, as Quaid pinned Morasci to the ground by straddling her, Shannon said. He hid the knife inside the home on top of a refrigerator, Shannon said.

Shannon said that Morasci next appeared in the living room with a steak knife and followed Quaid outside where she made jabbing and stabbing motions at him, but he avoided her. Shannon called 911 on his cell phone and police arrived shortly thereafter.

In his opening statement, McCormick said that Morasci was planning to move out Aug. 7 and still lived at the apartment, according to the written agreement.

McCormick said physical evidence, including Morasci’s clothes, and their condition, and the ownership of a Swiss Army knife will show his client’s self-defense in the altercation.

McCormick said that his client served honorably in the military and had training in self-defense.

Morasci’s statements to police include saying she killed Quaid, but McCormick told the jury they should distinguish between the words “kill” and “murder” because she had the right to defend herself.

McCormick also said he’ll show that the knife was Quaid’s and that she never used one of her own that police later found in her pocket. The trial resumes today at 11 a.m. in Judge John Trice’s courtroom.