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Witness recalls finding body of slain Riverhead teen

Curtisha Morning, who was killed in a homicide

Curtisha Morning, who was killed in a homicide on Long Island. Credit: Newsday

Three weeks after a Riverhead High School homecoming queen disappeared in 1996, a nanny took the two boys she cared for to the track to run around, she testified Friday.

Barbara Reichard said she knew Curtisha Morning, 17, had been missing for more than three weeks -- it had been in all the papers. But on that cold, March afternoon, that wasn't in Reichard's mind when she saw a leather jacket in the leaves next to a fence, down a slope from the high school track's southern end. She said she went to get it, thinking she might know someone who could use it.

"I pulled it up, and realized there was a body," Reichard said during questioning by Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kearon.

It was Morning, stabbed more than 90 times. Reichard was testifying at the second trial of Kalila Taylor, now 35. She was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder, but an appellate court threw out the verdict in 2004.

Prosecutors have said Taylor was enraged that Carl Brown Jr., the father of her child, was now dating Morning.

Earlier Friday, a teacher's aide at Eastern Suffolk BOCES, which is on the other side of the fence from where Reichard found the body, testified that about 10:25 a.m. on Feb. 29, she saw Morning looking away as Taylor talked to her.

Yolanda Jackson said she noticed the two girls on the side of North Griffing Avenue as she drove slowly by. Taylor gave Jackson a look, she said.

"It was a very hard look," Jackson said. "Stern."

When Jackson returned 10 minutes later, they were gone.

Morning didn't make it to her next class, chemistry, which began at 11:02 a.m., said Joseph Ogeka Jr., the high school assistant principal at the time and now an assistant superintendent in the district. She was never seen alive again.

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