Convicted killer charged in Kelei Morris death pleads not guilty

Kelei Morris, right, and Naquel Bennett became close friends as children in Biloxi.
Kelei Morris, right, and Naquel Bennett became close friends as children in Biloxi.

A convicted killer charged in the killing of former Biloxi resident Kelei Morris has pleaded not guilty to her fatal shooting in Mobile County, Alabama.

Steven Mason, 33, entered his plea Monday and his attorney argued for a bond, according to WALA FOX 10 in Mobile.

Mason is accused of shooting Morris, 23, in the head outside her Mobile apartment on Feb. 2, 2015. Morris, a graduate of St. Patrick High School in Biloxi, died two days later. She was a respiratory therapist.

Mason was convicted in 2003 in the murder of his 17-year-old girlfriend, shot in the head in 2002 at her apartment complex in Mobile. He was 18 and was prosecuted as a youthful offender, receiving a three-year prison term.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright on Monday asked for no bond for Mason, but said if bond should be granted, the DA’s Office prefers a $1 million cash bond, FOX 10 reported. Wright said Mason should not get bond and described him as “a real and present danger” to the community.

Wright said Mason, while behind bars, has been communicating with witnesses and has made threatening remarks to witnesses since the shooting, the news report said.

Mason will remain held with no bond pending a court hearing in June.

“He should remain in jail,” Biloxi resident Monique Pietrowski said Monday. Morris was her daughter’s best friend throughout their childhoods until the time of Morris’ death.

Mason was arrested March 20 after indictment on a murder charge in Morris’ killing.

Morris had dated Mason briefly but had decided she didn’t want to have a relationship with him, according to Naquel Bennett, a close friend of Morris. Bennett is Pietrowski’s daughter.

Morris and Mason had both worked at Mobile Infirmary.

Mason, a nurse, was fired from his job with the Singing River Health System in Jackson County after his arrest. SRHS has hospitals in Pascagoula and Ocean Springs. Mason had worked for SRHS for about a year, a spokesperson has said.

Morris grew up in Biloxi before earning a college degree in Mobile.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews