Attorney says client is victim of mistaken identity in Horton Plaza murder case

SAN DIEGO -- A man senselessly gunned down a decorated Navy pilot outside a comedy club at Horton Plaza, a prosecutor said Monday, while a defense attorney alleged that the real killer was his client's brother, and that the prosecution was relying on inadequate witness testimony to pin the blame on the defendant.

Arrow Morris, 41, is charged with murder in the June 10, 2017, shooting death of 43-year-old James Celani, as well as the attempted murder of Celani's cousin, who was grazed in the leg.

Arrow Morris, 41, is charged with murder in the June 10, 2017, shooting death of 43-year-old James Celani.

Celani was struck in the head, neck and chest, and died later that day at a hospital.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund said that after 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 allegedly began firing.

The prosecutor alleged that 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."

Morris' attorney, Steward Dadmun, said witnesses mistook his client for his brother, the actual shooter. The whereabouts of Morris' brother was unclear.

Dadmun alleged that the prosecution's witnesses misidentified various characteristics regarding the shooter, including his client's clothing, his hair, and the type of gun he allegedly possessed.

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.

However, Dadmun said Celani's cousin alleged the shooter was in a gray tracksuit, while another witness alleged he was wearing a football jersey.

Celani's cousin also said the shooter had shoulder-length dreadlocks, while Morris was bald on the night of the shooting, Dadmun said.

Another witness said Morris had shot Celani with a semi-automatic pistol, when ballistics evidence showed the murder weapon to be a revolver.

"None of these witness passes the reasonable doubt test, not a single one of them," Dadmun said.

Dadmun also noted that Morris' brother was wearing dark clothing, and would not stand out to witnesses at nighttime as much as Arrow Morris, who was dressed in brighter colors.

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," Maund said.

Morris, who was arrested two days after the shooting, faces more than 80 years to life in prison if convicted of all counts.

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