On Dateline NBC, Andrea Canning will investigate the murder of Brooke Morris (Brook Morris), a Knoxville, Tennessee, woman who was shot to death and left on the side of a country road six years ago. Her killer, Shawn Smoot, was a former State Farm Insurance agent.
Dateline NBC will dig deep into Brooke Morris’ tumultuous relationship with Shawn Smoot. Today, he is serving a life sentence for her death. On Friday, Dateline will feature interviews with the detectives who worked the case. The victim’s mother, Tina Gregg, and close friends of Brooke Morris will also offer some perspective. This week’s episode is titled “Nightfall.”
Dateline NBC will offer facts in the death of 23-year-old Brooke Nichole Morris, who was found dead on Old Blair Road in Roane County, Tennessee, in October of 2011. Investigators were called to the scene after a motorist noticed the body. Detectives later informed the woman’s mother of her murder. A medical examiner ruled that she had three gunshot wounds to the body. It was also noted that the young woman suffered before she received the fatal shot to the head.
It didn’t take long for the investigation to swing in the direction of Shawn Smoot, her 40-year-old ex-lover and former boss. He was the last person seen with Brooke just a couple of hours before she was brutally executed. Knoxville detectives learned that Brooke Morris met Shawn Smoot when she began working for him at his State Farm office in West Knoxville. Smoot, who was married at the time, became smitten by Morris.
The two began having an affair. Shawn Smoot’s relationship with his pregnant wife ended when she learned of the affair. Despite the end of his marriage, Shawn Smoot and Brooke “Brook” Morris were never happy together. Friends noticed right away that Shawn Smoot was a jealous and possessive man with a violent temper.
Shawn’s aggressive nature made Brooke feel uncomfortable and frightened. Friends even noticed a bruise on Brooke Morris at one time. Authorities referenced police records on file, which indicated that Brooke Morris had taken out a restraining order against Shawn Smoot the year before her death. The restraining order stemmed from the night that Smoot broke into her home and tried to sexually assault her. Neighbors reported hearing her piercing screams, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Shawn Nelson Smoot went on the run after his ex-lover’s murder. He was located in Mississippi in June of 2012. When detectives finally apprehended him, he had a gun and a sleeping bag in his possession.
At trial, prosecutors were able to vividly describe Brooke Morris’ last terrifying moments. The Knoxville News Sentinel describes the account.
“The first shot ripped through Morris’ neck, lacerating her jugular vein and severing her larynx. ‘She opens her mouth to talk and the only thing that comes out is blood.’ The second round hit Morris, who was still standing, in the chest, nicking her pulmonary artery and filling her lungs with blood. ‘Brooke is conscious, she’s aware and she’s in extreme pain,” Smith told the jury. ‘Brooke knows she’s going to die.’ The third shot struck Morris in the back of her head. A medical examiner’s report ruled each of the three wounds was potentially fatal.”
For the murder of Brooke Morris, Shawn Smoot was given a life sentence. On Dateline NBC, friends will describe Brooke Morris as an outgoing person with a fun spirit. She was a true southern belle who loved football, tailgating with friends, cooking out, and dancing. Family members were saddened that her life was stolen from her.
Tune into Dateline NBC to find out more about the Shawn Smoot and Brooke Morris’ story. It airs at 9/8 p.m. Central. (Note: In the first few reports of Brooke Morris’ 2011 murder, the name was spelled Brooke Morris in several news accounts.) Recently, the murder of Paige Birgfeld was investigated on Dateline.
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